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Debate: Does television have a malign influence on society?

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* This house would thank TV * This house would thank TV
-== Websites ==+==References==
 +==This debate in legislation, policy, and elsewhere==
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* [ Online articles and other sources dealing with mass media and communications theory] * [ Online articles and other sources dealing with mass media and communications theory]
* [ United Nations World Television forum] * [ United Nations World Television forum]
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* [ Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television] <sup>Jerry Mander</sup> * [ Four Arguments for the Elimination of Television] <sup>Jerry Mander</sup>
* [ What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News] <sup>Eric Alterman</sup> * [ What Liberal Media? The Truth About Bias and the News] <sup>Eric Alterman</sup>
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Revision as of 23:00, 18 September 2007

Is television a malign influence on society?

This article is based on a Debatabase entry written by Jurgita Venckute. Because this wiki document can be modified by any registered user of this site, its contents should be cited with care.


Background and Context of Debate:

Nowadays television plays a significant role not only in social and political life, acting as a tool for spreading information and forming people’s mentality, but also in the everyday life of individuals as a source of entertainment. It affects our minds and plays a role in shaping social changes. It is argued that this may be harmful as television shows more and more sex and violence, sacrifices the quality of the programs for the sake of commercial benefit and takes away the biggest part of our free time. On the other hand it is impossible to imagine the life of modern society without television, especially keeping in mind the crucial importance of spreading information around the globe.

Violence and crime - Does TV watching increase crime and violence rates?


Violence and sex shown on television results in higher rate of crime: This is especially evident in the U.S.A and other western countries. Many criminals confess that their violent actions or attitudes to women were encouraged by TV. The rate of such crimes is constantly growing and more and more often they are committed by teenagers.

TV encourages anti-social behavior


There is no direct link between mass media and antisocial behaviour: Such behavior is usually determined by social environment, family, peer pressure, or other factors. Many antisocial people even do not watch TV, while others may claim it is responsible for their actions simply to avoid taking responsibility for themselves. Psychologists claim that television does not have a simple, direct stimulus-response effect on its audiences. This can be illustrated by the example of Japan, where TV movies are famous for extreme violence, but the crime rate is low – much lower than in many societies where TV viewing is relatively rare.

Influence - Does TV substantially influence the moral behavior of people, and in a bad way?


A big part of TV audience consists of teenagers, which is particularly vulnerable to the violence and various stereotypes, promoted by TV: This is because the mentality of young people is in the process of formation. Television’s impact on the morality of the younger generation can affect the future of our society negatively, and so the state and parents should act to limit their exposure to it.


It is obvious that the influence of family, friends, religion and school is decisive in forming the moral values of young people: If parents and teachers are not willing or capable of performing their proper role, then teenagers can be negatively influenced not only by TV, but also by friends, their social environment and other factors.

Advertisements - Do TV ads have a negative influence on individuals?


Television is greatly abused for commercial purposes, in which audiences are constantly sold to: Advertisers try to convince the audience that the solution to a problem or the fulfilment of a desire can only be achieved through the purchase of a product. It is designed towards blind acceptance by the viewer. In this way TV negatively affects the human mind, by limiting the possibilities of conscious choice, and promotes a consumer society.


Television is not the only tool for advertisement: The influence of commercials reaches our society through newspapers, radio and other sources of information. On the other hand, advertisement is just a source of information for consumers, which enables them to choose between different products. Advertising can also be regulated in different ways that do not relate to a debate about television. Indeed television broadcasting can be run without advertising at all; the U.K.’s BBC runs no commercials but is paid for through a licensing fee, while commercial broadcasters are increasingly promoting pay-per-view options.

Value: Does TV have little substantive cultural value?


Television is mostly directed to films and shows that have commercial purposes but little cultural value: Television has become a temple of mass production, shallow values and stereotypes that have a great influence on modern society. This negative effect spreads with the growing popularity of TV, especially among young people and children. It defiantly changes our society for the worse, trivialising culture and making us all conform to a bland, "Hollywood" model of entertainment in which regional traditions and diversity are lost.


Many scientific and cultural programs are shown on television, which give new educational opportunities for our society: In addition TV is a very important factor in our information society. It enables the spread of information and opinion on important political and social issues, thus encouraging individuals to participate more actively in the life of society. Call-in shows and other programs help to establish closer links between politicians and electors. TV represents different interests and gives more opportunities for self-expression, thus forming a more open society. Interactive digital channels promise even more such opportunities in the future, perhaps creating electronic town-halls to assist democratic decision-making, and allowing niche channels to address particular cultural traditions or interests.

Time and life - Are people simply spending too much of their day watching television, at the expense of living fuller lives?


People spend the biggest part of their free time watching television: According to the statistics, the average American child watches 26 hours a television per week. That’s how TV programs reduce the quality of real life by narrowing people’s outlook, limiting the variety of free time activities, affecting family relations by reducing conversation, and even having an impact on health by discouraging exercise.


People are conscious creatures and they can choose the way to spend their free time that they prefer: Parents should be blamed for the habits of their children, but not television. The life style of the individual determines the role of television in his or her free time, but not vice versa. In any case, young people in many countries are now spending less time watching television than they did ten years ago, preferring to surf the internet instead.

Depression and TV - Does TV cause depression and/or anxiety among people?


Depression is a well-known psychological problem of modern society that is partly caused by tv watching: The popularity of TV watching is among the reasons of this phenomenon. Violence, aggression, crimes and wars are broadcast through the daily news as well as in movies, showing dark pictures that encourage psychological tension, pessimism and negative emotions.


People should be informed about the World they live in and its problems, and through visceral images on tv that represent that reality honestly: This kind of information is the first step towards solving them. Besides TV shows, comedies, musical channels perfectly serve as a source of entertainment and positive emotions, helping people to take their mind off their troubles.


  • This house would censor TV programs
  • This house would not watch TV
  • This house would thank TV


This debate in legislation, policy, and elsewhere

External links and resources


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