Used around the world by millions, arguably one of the most popular modern inventions created, television has changed the way people spend their evenings. The first television system that could both transmit and receive images was invented by Vladimir Zworkin in 1929 (Bellis). By 1936, roughly 200 television sets were receiving television broadcasts worldwide (Bellis). Since then, television has gained in popularity and appeal. Today, hundreds of television channels exist and millions of people around the world spend a lot of time watching TV. An important question arises: is all this time spent watching television beneficial or harmful?
Another disturbing fact is that the average 18-year-old has witnessed 200,000 violent acts and 16,000 murders ("Media Violence: Facts & Statistics"). Interestingly, the Bureau of Justice Statistics has claimed that 7,225,800 people, in total, were incarcerated, on parole, and on probation in the year 2009 (“Key Facts at a Glance”). In the year 1980 the total was 1,840,400 (“Key Facts at a Glance”). That is a significant increase. In less than three decades, the total has risen by nearly 293%. Part of this growth in the prison population could be due to the increasingly violent television shows, video games, and movies, among other things.
Aside from the harmful affects the television has on young children, TV produces a state in the brain that causes one to be highly receptive to suggestion (Moore). Scientists have measured the brain activity of people watching TV. It appears that a person’s brain slows down when one is watching a television screen, even if the screen is only displaying text (Moore). Because of this, people watching TV may be more likely to purchase a product advertised in a commercial since their brain is more open to suggestion.
A technology that has existed for more than seventy years, television has entertained millions of people around the world, from young children to the aged. If its early inventors could see the world today and the programs being watched on television sets, they would most likely be appalled. The time people spend watching television shows is time that can never be regained. A father who spends most of his evenings in front of a glowing screen is a father who is absent from his kids. If his children grow up watching a lot of violent programs on TV, they might end up with a criminal record later as an adult. Sadly, this has been the case for many households and is due, in part, to the influence of the television.
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