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The Pros and Cons of Watching TV

Updated on February 12, 2018
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Paul has been teaching technology for a number of years, especially the creation of digital audio and video. He lives in Florida.

A television remote control.  TV came to dominate the 20th century as the primary source of entertainment and information.  Computers, smartphones, and other internet devices have all eaten into television's dominance in the 21st Century, however.
A television remote control. TV came to dominate the 20th century as the primary source of entertainment and information. Computers, smartphones, and other internet devices have all eaten into television's dominance in the 21st Century, however. | Source

The television dominated the latter half of the 20th Century as the main source of household entertainment and information for the public throughout much of the world.

From its humble beginnings, when widespread public broadcasting began in the 1930s in the USA and European countries, TV gradually spread around the world.

Only at the end of the 20th Century was the television's popularity dented somewhat, as PC's, smartphones, laptops, tablets, and other internet-enabled entertainment devices began to eat into TV's traditional dominance.

In this article, I look at what are the advantages and disadvantages of TV as a medium.

Did You Know?

It has been worked out that the typcial American child sees about 13,000 deaths on TV between the ages of 5 and 14.

Before 1987, there were no TV broadcasts in Iceland on Thursdays.

Fred and Wilma Flintstone were the first couple to be shown in bed together on prime time US TV.

Digital television has now replaced analog in all the advanced countries of the world.  Digital signals allow for much better quality picture and audio quality. Streaming television over the internet has also altered the viewing culture.
Digital television has now replaced analog in all the advanced countries of the world. Digital signals allow for much better quality picture and audio quality. Streaming television over the internet has also altered the viewing culture. | Source

The Pros of Television

1. It can act as a very useful general source of information. You can watch the news on television and see what is happening currently. You can watch history, travel, nature, biography documentaries. Essentially, TVs can supply an almost endless flow of factual information.

2. It can be a source of entertainment. Television can deliver comedies, drama, movies, sports, and children's programs. Over the years, program makers have near-perfected the art of producing watchable shows and a whole industry has built up around the medium. Viewers now have more choice than at any time before, with a huge archive of programs backing up current material.

3. It helps us with our everyday lives. Television gives us practical information such as weather forecasts. It gives us information on how to do all sorts of things, such as buy and decorate a house, cook meals, and where to travel to.

4. As well as a source of general information, TV can also give students more in-depth educational information, which they can use to complete their school and college courses effectively.

5. The video and audio format can sometimes be the best way of conveying certain information. Watching the news, or see a movie on television, for instance, can sometimes be a more powerful experience than reading about it online, or in a newspaper, or book.

6. TVs generally have bigger screens than any other device. This usually makes them the best way to play games, or watch movies and videos. It also means that they can be very social, with the entire family sitting to watch a movie, or a group of friends gathering to watch a sporting event.

7. It is generally a tightly controlled and regulated medium. Unlike the internet, for instance, where it is possible to stumble across pornography, fraudulent adverts, or disturbing images, Television normally provides safe viewing for children and families during the daytime and early evening.

Invention of TV

Many inventors contributed to the development of TV.

One major leap was made when Paul Nipkow came up with a rotating-disc technology which could transmit pictures over wire in 1884, known as the Nipkow disk.

In 1926 a Scottish amateur scientist named John Logie Baird succeeded in transmitting the first TV picture with a mechanical system which used a large spinning disc.

Mechanical TV was then replaced by electronic TV, which used cathode ray tube technology to produce the picture.

Television viewing peaked in the 1980's.  Computers, tablets, smartphones and other internet enabled devices have gradually eaten into the market, resulting in a reduction in TV viewing for both information and entertainment.
Television viewing peaked in the 1980's. Computers, tablets, smartphones and other internet enabled devices have gradually eaten into the market, resulting in a reduction in TV viewing for both information and entertainment. | Source

The Cons of Television

1. The commercials can be very disruptive and irritating and can undermine the enjoyment of programs, especially if there are too many of them, or they are too frequent. Repeated commercials can also be irritating.

2. Traditional television lacks a certain amount of flexibility in the internet age, where a viewer can often choose from a wide range of programs online and watch them at the times that suit them. You can't pause traditional programming either, if you need to take a break.

3. TV can sap your time and end up being a passive excuse for being lazy, if you're not careful. Phenomena such as channel surfing show how easy it is slip into an apathetic state of mind. While it is often certainly relaxing, it is not necessarily a very productive use of time, especially if overindulged in.

4. Television can influence society negatively as well as positively. Violence, sex, and crime shows can all attract viewers, but they don't necessarily make for a healthy and positive society.

5. TV is relatively easy for oppressive governments to control. They can dictate what news and information their citizens have access to. Television can therefore be used as a means of social and political control (although this has been undermined to some degree in the modern age, with the introduction of the internet, which is less easy to control).

Quotes about Television

“I find television very educating. Every time somebody turns on the set, I go into the other room and read a book.” Groucho Marx

“Watching television is like taking black spray paint to your third eye.” Bill Hicks

“Seeing a murder on television... can help work off one's antagonisms. And if you haven't any antagonisms, the commercials will give you some.” Alfred Hitchcock

“People are sheep. TV is the shepherd.” Jess C. Scott

Do you think that the advantages of TV outweigh the disadvantages?

See results

© 2014 Paul Goodman

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    • vidgotv profile image

      Vidgo 20 months ago from Menomonee Falls, WI

      Good article! It's certainly a mixed bag, but TV has tons of potential to add cultural value, apart from just general impact. I love my TV, FWIW.

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