Television: the epidemic

Ever since the 1900’s, it has spread, like a plague, through our midst. Addicting person after person to its screen, it is like an unknowing predator which feeds on the lives of those who see it or have seen it. Television, the most addicting and dangerous drug in the world, one you cannot escape, no matter where you go, and this drugs negative effects are finally beginning to be exposed to our eyes, in more ways than one.

To understand the “present” of television, the past must be examined first, to see how such a machine came into existence. The first electrical television was demonstrated on September 7, 1927 by a man named Philo Taylor Farnsworth. A while before this, Farnsworth had begun to conceive of a system that could capture moving images in a form that could be coded onto radio waves and then transformed back into a picture on a screen around his high school years, as he had lived in a home without electricity for the first 14 years of his life (6). His design has been thought to have been an advanced form of a previous scientist’s work, a Boris Rosing, who had, 16 years previous, conducted multiple wavelength and transmitting experiments.
Almost as soon as it was created, one of the most powerful radio companies in the United States dedicated 50 million to the production of electrical televisions. The company, RCA, on top on account of its two NBC programs, bought the patent to Farnsworth’s research and began producing televisions that were 5 by 12 in. in size. They were distributed very quickly, and a mere 12 years later, the first baseball game ever shown on television between Princeton and Columbia was aired. Eventually, in 1941, “the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS), RCA’s main competition in radio, was broadcasting two 15-minute newscasts a day to a tiny audience on its New York television station (6)”. However, early television was very “primitive”, the picture was blurry, and the people on the screen had to wear special makeup as the screen had a problem with lighter colors, such as white (6). The mop-up process could not be done quickly because of World War 2 and the need to make weapons to use in the fighting. After a while, the RCA split into ABC when it was told by the FCC to sell two of its stations. ABC entered the stage several years after this incident, and several other stations began experimenting with this new and interesting form of communiqué.

One thing led to another, and now, 82 years later, the problems have to begun to arise, and so begs the question; is television hurting more than helping? According to Daphne Miller M.D., more and more strict limitations are appearing for television when it involves children. Why children? According to miller’s studies, television can be contributed to both poor performance on tests and other schoolwork, to an increase in violence that is being more ‘felt’ than seen. Miller argues that the television is keeping students from studying by distracting them, and also, since they are so distracted, they stay up far too late on school nights and get far too little sleep. These students end up going to school and doing very badly, both because of lack of knowledge and lack of sleep. The rise in violence in teenagers can also be partially contributed to television, Miller says, there is even violence in children’s shows, perhaps four or more incidents of violence in each show, which even media experts label as ‘high’. It even turns out that in older teens, antisocial and violent behavior depends on how much violent television that they watch (Miller). The statistic is level now, but who knows about the future?

According to another source, Judith Graham, television is also having a dramatic effect on both cognitive and social functions. Graham states in her article that “young children need to ‘explore, move, manipulate, smell, touch and repeat as they learn.’” Unfortunately, such functions are not occurring because the sedentary kids would rather watch television than do anything else. Graham even quotes the Department of Education, “For older children, it is important to play, read, do homework, and talk with other children and adults for healthy development,” Graham is trying to say that these activities lead to a normally developed social section of the brain, but sitting in front of a television doesn’t do your homework, or let you play, or let you read anything beyond a simple sentence that flashes by in a commercial, or provide ample communication with either a peer or an adult. All in all; is television really worth it?
When that question is thought about logically, it would only make sense if television was at least rationed a bit in order to alleviate exposure. The article Harmful for Children states rather clearly that watching television all the time can become addicting, but if you just play outside, the situation is completely avoided, and not only that, you are spending your time in a healthy manner. Being responsible and allowing time away from the television would also affect the amount of juvenile behavior (Sedycias). Since there is already so much violence on the television, it makes a person wonder if it could get worse, and according to Miller’s article, it is. She said that ‘the AAP issued a recommendation that children watch no more than one to two hours of “quality” television a day. Just two weeks ago, the AAP came out with stricter guidelines.’ This, meaning that television could get worse in just a few weeks, and this article was published in 1999. Maybe this is a good time to get acquainted with a soccer ball?
To bring this long affair to a close, is to remind of the path that television has created for the youth of not only America, but eventually the whole world. The impending laziness and sloth will sweep across the world if television is reminded of its limits. Over time, if television viewing is properly subdued in the world, perhaps there will be a little less mass to worry about and a little more life to live.