Television sets occupy the most visible place in our living rooms. It has evolved as the most trusted friend of humans that we cannot now take it away even for a day. In this marvalously advanced age, TV has become the most useful source of information, education and entertainment. We are able to know the events in any corner of the world instantaneously, thanks to the many television networks available today.
However, TV is also the villain that dictates the way we live our lives as it forms and shapes our outlook, values and morality, and even plans our daily programs. It often forces us to give up more important things in life for the sake of reality shows and unending serials. It creates lasting impressions in the minds of children and young people as it takes up much of their time during their years of growing up. They now look to TV’s heroes for answers on growing up, questions on human sexuality, values, morality, etc. The ramifications of this sordid diet are truly incalculable as they openly discuss and endorse homosexuality, adultery and premarital sex. They speak vilely about the human person, especially women, and push the limits of immorality to heights never imagined before. This is the cause for several social and moral epidemics that we face today.
Studies indicate that by the time a child graduates from High School, he or she will have witnessed more than 200,000 violent acts on television, including 16,000 simulated murders. According to the American Academy of Paediatrics (AAP), 10 to 20 per cent of real life violence is attributed to violence in the media, especially television. Teens who watched more than one hour television daily are almost four times as likely to commit aggressive acts in adulthood. Even Ted Turner, the liberal founder of CNN and TBS, has said that television is the single most significant factor contributing to violence today.
We often think Children’s programs are harmless and attractive. Many parents thus naively use TV as a baby sitter. However, these programs are only wolves in sheep’s clothing. A content analysis of children’s television found that there is more violence on children’s entertainment than on adult oriented TV. A three-week period of entertainment programming for school-aged children that aired on eight networks found that there were nearly 3,500 incidents of violence, or an average of 7.86 instances per hour.
Studies have shown that too much TV affects also the students’ academic performance. Researchers at New York Albert Einstein College issued a report in November 2006 which confirmed the need for students to turn off the computer, TV, radio and other media devices and focus more on their studies in order to enhance their academic performance.
Why do we allow our children to get information from anybody and everybody on important topics like human sexuality and relationships when their own parents and teachers could be the better guides?
Here are Seven Action Plans that might guide us in our use of Television as a medium:
1. Keep television out of bedrooms. It should be in rooms accessible to the entire family.
2. Place time limits on TV viewing – not more than two hours for children.
3. Avoid watching TV during meals and when guests are in the house.
4. Parents – watch what your children are watching.
5. Pay attention to positive behaviours on TV, including examples of kindness, cooperation, friendship and challenge negative behaviour. Discuss them with your children.
7. Parents - be good examples by monitoring and controlling your own TV habits.