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Essay Television and Its Impacts on Society

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Over the last forty to fifty years, television has been a major topic of discussion. Specifically, many debate societal benefits to television watching. One widely accepted opinion is that watching TV makes people dumber. People have referred to it with terms like the “idiot box” and do not feel that watching TV has any benefit at all. They feel that it is a waste of time and people need to spend their hours more wisely. Others are of the opinion that TV is actually has societal benefits. From this perspective, they claim that the development of the structure of the programs now requires one to intellectually participate in watching television. Essentially, the argument is whether TV is a beneficial societal force or is it simply a…show more content…
It could very well be true that over the past 20 years, television programming has developed in such a way as to demand more cognitive participation. However, watching TV is not the societal benefit Johnson makes it out to be. Johnson’s claim that TV is overall a beneficial societal force fails to account for the indirect effects of watching TV. It may be true that the cognitive demands of watching an episode of 24 do in fact stimulate brain function as opposed to diminish it. However, when a person sits down in front of the TV, he is choosing to do so instead of reading, studying, doing his homework, or exercising. These things are undisputedly beneficial to society. When one spends his time in front of the TV screen, it is time he is taking away from actually getting smarter. Many researchers, including Gary G. Gaddy, label this “the displacement effect.” Based on a study he published in 1986 on the impact of television on the achievement of high school students, Gaddy claims that watching TV has no scholastic benefit. He found that “in comparison to reading for pleasure, for example, television is clearly less effective,” and that it is “scholastically unproductive” (Gaddy 355). Gaddy’s research indicated that while watching TV may not measurably diminish one’s high school achievement, it does take one away from more intellectually beneficial exercises. Ultimately, he concludes that though watching TV has no directly negative effect, it also
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