How Media and Television has Influenced a Generation

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The Television has done what few other inventions could, that is affecting nearly every aspect of life. Whether easing access to news and information, causing social progression, biasing minds, effecting family and time usage, changing work ethic and priorities, influencing the talk of times, or setting the platform for other huge inventions there is no doubt that the television shapes the life of Americans.

Television shapes what normality and acceptability in society is mainly due to the fact that 99% of households watch television and that the television is on an average of 5 and 1/21?2 hours a day (Norman, "Television and Statistics"). What was perceived as fun 40 years ago may be looked upon as boring nowadays, what is okay to air on television today may have caused riots not long ago. With the power and influence of television, one is able to connect with different types of people and cultures and often this can help extinguish prejudices. After the civil rights movement of the 1960s moods of most Americans had shifted towards one of equality between blacks and whites. However, there was still a good number of Americans who held prejudices. In the 1970s a handful of television shows featuring all or highly black casts were introduced such as That's My Mama, Good Times, What's Happening?, and Sanford & Son. Many of these would rise to big success and would help to further integrate the idea of equality into American homes. When Interracial marriage became legal in 1967 approval was only at 20% yet only 8 years with only 1/3 of Americans now in support a hit show would help push for normality. The Jeffersons first aired in 1975 and ran for 11 seasons while featuring a prominent interracial marriage. By the time the show had ended in 1985 approval had nearly reached half the country. Many other shows have touched on sensitive issues and made a big impact on the issues themselves. Shows such as All In the Family, Roseanne, and Glee have appeared through the years and have tackled sensitive issues like political matters, gender roles, racism, and lgbt issues (Shrum).

However, other progressions in society have not been so helpful to society. In the early days of television, a code of ethics had been adopted called "The Code of Practices for Television Broadcasters". This code aimed to prevent many negative practices such as profanity, anti-god material, most sexual material, drug use, and violence. If that code had stayed in effect (the justice department effectively suspended the code in 1983) most of the hit shows of today would not exist due to the increase in violence and sexual activity among television shows of today. It is hard to imagine a world where Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, Jersey Shore, or any of the numerous reality television shows do not exist (Shrum).

Television has also made it easier to access information. News channels are plentiful and every television channel can provide some type of information on a topic. Before television, news could only be heard quickly through the radio and one could not actually see any photos or video until the day after in the newspaper. Television also changes how people interpret a big happening. Reading about an event like 9-11 would evoke some emotion however actually seeing the sheer terror and chaos for oneself hits an even deeper level. Reading about an election is sure to bring up some feelings, but actually seeing the cheers of one camp and the sadness emitted from the other is sure to bring heavier opinions. In this sense, Television has served a different purpose as an emotional amplifier. Smaller news such as sports has also taken on a much bigger factor with the television. Nearly every night there is some kind of televised sport and of course on a fall weekend football can be seen on a plethora of channels. Sports also hold the trophy for most viewership as the Super Bowl is routinely one of the most watched programs of the year. Information regarding advertised products is also easier to find since the average American will watch 2 million 30-second long commercials before the age of 65. Other information that has been made easier to find includes weather, entertainment, and local news (Norman, "Television and Statistics").

Bias in television should not come as a surprise since bias has been clearly evident in earlier types of reporting such as newspaper, radio, and even word of mouth. Nevertheless, network bias has impacted the United States in numerous ways including perhaps most importantly in the presidential elections. When tuning in to a news channel a viewer that sees a story on CNN (Cable News Network) will generally not get the same story if they had tuned in to FNC (Fox News Channel). In studies conducted by the Pew Research Center in 2012, statistics showed that the CNN audience was nearly 3-1 Democrat while FNC had nearly 3-1 Republican viewership ("In changing news landscapes, Even television is vulnerable"). Specific television hosts such as Rachel Maddow and Hannity seemed to draw the highest ratios and bias. In the 2012 Election and practically all of the last few elections critics from both sides have cried out that media bias is swaying voters into voting a certain way. Local TV remains the premiere choice for campaign media strategists as Presidential spending on local broadcast TV stations in 2012 (from the conventions to Election Day) grew dramatically versus 2008, increasing over 65% to nearly $500 million. The most recent survey has found faith in news media at an near all time low with only 23% of Americans saying that they trust news media (Bidwell). However, this begs a question; if media is biased each way then is media truly affecting the votes as strongly as some believe? Political and news reporting bias is not the only bias on television. Advertisements are of course meant to promote a product or service and seeing that a certain company could sponsor a show there can be a good degree of bias toward that product (or against an opponent's product). Before TV, there were radio commercials and signs in stores, but that's nothing compared to the bright, colorful and loud bombardment of television commercials every few minutes. Not only do we see products advertised directly, but we also see characters using them. Bias can also be found on television shows themselves, which can often be used to promote a social belief or movement. More often, though shows are accused of promoting an agenda when really the hecklers are just opposite in belief to what the television show portrays. Recent shows that have come under fire from this include the hit show Glee which has been criticized for promoting in the words of some conservative critics "the wussification of American children" (through the promotion of anti-bullying and the positive stigma around glee club in the case of Glee) as well as the promoted acceptance of many anti-conservative values (McFedries). However, as in most cases critics really do not hold too much power as these shows continue to garner hit ratings.

The American Work Ethic has been heavily criticized in the recent decades and many people draw conclusions between the amount of television watched by an individual and the work ethic of that individual. Considering the amount of time it takes to hold a job or schooling, the average time per day an American watches television, and the other necessities of the day (sleep, eating, bathing) it is easy to see that television does battle for time against jobs and other positive activities like working out, hanging with friends, or spending time with family. Due to the lack of studies available on the subject of work ethic, one can only opinionate. On the other hand, studies have been plentiful on a somewhat related subject and that is obesity & television. Looking at the numerous studies, a majority seems to have found that television does have a negative impact on health especially that of obesity. Conclusions have also been drawn stating the amounts of time spent watching TV can even surpass the health effects of physical activity and nutrition (Hancox et Fulton). Some Pediatricians have even gone as far as to recommended cutting television altogether during some early stages in childhood development (Hancox et Fulton).

Television may possibly be the biggest influence ever to affect America but not all of that impact happened directly. The Television set the path for a plethora of other inventions like the cell phone, videos, gaming systems, tablets, and so many more items that make up such a large part of American culture today. What would American life be like had television never been invented? Well had the television not been invented than one can take away the computer, cell phone, videogames, and DVD'S. In other words, television itself was the beginning of an entire technological revolution that rivals and perhaps surpasses any other invention-based revolution that America has ever seen.

Another heavily discussed aspect of the television is the effect that it has on family life. This is a complicated issue because there are many positive and likewise many negative effects. One study found that television and video games lessened stress, helped self-esteem, and led to a better overall emotional health but also attributed to obesity and antisocial behavior (Rose). Another study found that if television is watched in large amounts by children than the chances of antisocial behavior like lack of friends, poor attention span, lack of empathy, chances of becoming a bully, or even later on in life committing major crimes such as theft and murder increase (Shrum). One study also found that television could shorten life by about 4 to 5 years (Rourke). Television may also play a role especially among teens and young adult in weight disorders like anorexia and bulimia. TV shows marketed toward teens often use model teens that are very skinny, very attractive, and that seem to have a perfect or at least better life. This can often make the viewer feel inadequate and may cause them to take drastic measures such as the above disorders. Of course, moderation does seem to be the key in these studies as positive effects are often seen when a family gathers to watch a television favorite. Content is also thought to be a main factor in these results.

Every day interaction is greatly affected by television. The talk of the times is almost always connected to television. This is also known as the "Water cooler Effect." Every time something big happens on television whether it is a crisis, TV series, scandal, weather report, or sports event it is often the most talked about topic at school, work, or other communication hotspots. Miley Cyrus has been mentioned nearly every ten minutes since the VMA's. When January and February come around, the Super Bowl is often talked about by the American masses. A new season of a television show is often discussed in a classroom; television triggers the primal social instinct that humans have. Both work and school schedules are often influenced by big sports events such as Olympics or championships in other sports. In addition, Television has expanded career fields and learning in school with the additions of so many jobs in the ever-expanding television related field.

Television has shaped the past and is shaping the present but the future of the television holds major impacts it seems as well. New prototype inventions like Google Glass, Oculus Rift, Argus II, Atlas Robot, and Bounce Imaging Explorer which are hybrids of the computer, television, and Smartphone hold interesting concepts for the future. The Smartwatch is another new invention that could be the gateway into the future of television. The Smart TV's have kept television itself directly in the technology race allowing voice activation, apps, internet access, multiple channels to be streamed at the same time, and other more phone and computer like capabilities.

The television has changed so much in just a few decades. The impacts of the television can be felt in nearly every aspect of American life these days. Television is a teacher, a parent, a friend, and a hero to many and yet also a villain, a convict and a killer to others. Television teaches children to learn about their ABC'S and yet also how one can kill or carry out crimes. Television decides what is normal in society and has often held the most power in deciding what is and what is not acceptable in society in subjects ranging from social issues to violence and sex. Television has affected major events like the Super Bowl and presidential debates by reaching mass audiences. Bias has also invaded television especially in the news networks but also in things as simple as advertisements. The news and advertisements that are broadcasted influence beliefs in everything from favorite restaurant to political affiliations. News and up to date information is no longer a daily or hourly event instead news in some form is broadcasted 24/7. Work ethic, Obesity, and social nature have all been affected by televisions influence. New fields of technology like much of the video game industry, DVDs, cell phones, and the computer all show televisions indirect influence on life. Television shapes, schedules, and influences what the talks of the times are in sports, shows, scandals, celebs, and news. Television's effects are not limited to the past and present, as the future also seems promising with new inventions like Google glass, Smart watches, and new generations in television itself. There are very few inventions that have had the ability to influence an entire generation, but the television has gone far and above that, influencing every single generation since its unveiling and showing few signs of slowing down. It takes very little trepidation to call the television the most important invention in American History.

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How Media And Television Has Influenced a Generation. (2022, Dec 08). Retrieved June 19, 2024 , from
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