I would say that television has an influence on our lives today but not too
much. It is a significant influence but not a prime one. A majority of the
world's population, coming especially from the poorer countries, do not have
television sets. Watching television is, therefore, a luxury. It is in these
areas that the statement does not apply at all.
In America, however, watching
television is the most popular pastime for the average citizen. An average of
two hours per day and more so on weekends is spent in front of the set. The
trend is similar in other developed countries like Japan. However, in an average
developed country like Malaysia, where the average person spends an average of
an hour or so a day passively being entertained by this medium, the influence is
There are other competing demands on one's time in this fast paced, modern
world. Even in poor countries, work takes up a lot of a person's time as he
engages in the harsh struggle to eke out a daily living. Often, children are
also roped in to work part or full time to help their families survive. In many
developing countries like China and Malaysia, the middle classes spend much of
their time working to pay their bills like utilities, housing mortgages and
provisions. The children too are caught in the rat race. School is a continuous
struggle to keep up with studies, homework and parental expectations. Watching
television is consigned to what spare time people have, usually not more than an
hour a day except during weekends.
Yet, in spite of the limited time left for, television, whatever is
transmitted from the box is influential. This is especially so for young,
impressionable minds and especially so for
American children who have less homework and spend more time in front of the
set. For those children, the messages from the screen may have a negative
influence on them. Advertisers try to persuade them to buy goods and toys which
may be undesirable or beyond the parents' budgets. They may also like to imitate
the make-believe actions and antics of heroes like the 'Ninja Turtles' or `Power
Puff Girls'. Children have been known to harm themselves as they tried to
imitate their idols.
Advertisers try to influence the viewers to buy merchandise or services with
persuasive power, or to subscribe to certain lifestyles. This fuels the demand
for fashionable goods and services. Television may promote greatly the consumer
culture, but the values they uphold may be undesirable. Dubious ethical values
like liberal sex and violence would have effects on young, impressionable and
uneducated people. Thankfully, surveys have confirmed that people recognize that
much of what is shown on television is not real.
Against these insidious influences,
knowing parents, teachers and lawmen try to counter them. There is limited time
for watching television, but its influence can be substantial. The forces for
good will try to channel the appetite for watching television to watching more
educational programs or healthy dramas or game shows. There are other media like
the mobile phone, the radio and computers which compete for a person's time.
Other pastimes also take up a person's time.
Most people in this world will have access to television. However, they will
be caught in many other pursuits like work or alternative leisure which will
mitigate the influence of television.
Television is a significant influence, but it does not exert too great an
influence on life today.