Television Friend Or Foe Essay

2549 words - 10 pages

By the time she was seven, Sarah had witnessed countless murders and numerous horrifying acts of violence ranging from spousal abuse to violent beatings, rape and other atrocities of war and gang violence. You may ask yourself, where could this child have grown up? Was it some war-torn country? Could it have been some country lacking the securities of decent law enforcement where criminals are free to roam and tyrannize innocent citizens? How do children manage to grow up under these circumstances, you ask yourself. But wait, Sarah is your neighbor. Nearly every day you see her and her brothers getting off the bus in the afternoon and running into their house. They aren't a violent family, and they haven't moved from some ravaged country. Sarah is just the average school child whose preferred after-school activity is television viewing. This year she will spend 1500 hours in front of the television set. Compare that figure with the 900 hours she will spend in her classroom at school. She even has her own television set in her room like more than a third of the young children her age (Feig 2). Averaging three to four hours of viewing a day, by the time she completes elementary school, she will have taken in more than 100,000 acts of violence and 8,000 murders. Oh, but it's just entertainment, right? Wrong, our children are facing a threat that should not be ignored. Television comes directly into our homes, and its influence needs to be addressed and dealt with. FCC Chairman Newton Minow said, "In 1961 I worried that my children would not benefit much from television, but in 1991 I worry that my grandchildren will actually be harmed by it" (qtd. in Kaufman 4).

Let's consider the fact that the average child spends three to five hours on a weekday planted in front of the television screen and frequently more on the weekend. For many children of preschool age, this is more time than they spend playing outside and three times as much time as is spent reading or being read to (Feig 1). Such dedication to television viewing results in less time devoted to other critical areas of children's development. According to the department of education, "Language skills are best developed through reading and interactions with others in conversation and play" (Graham 1). Children can't interact with a television. Placed in front of a television set, the typical child manages to tune out everything around himself or herself, focusing only on the bright, loud distraction of the quickly changing images of the television. Television clearly takes time away that could be spent with family members, playing with friends, and reading. Unsupervised, the average child can while away hour upon hour in front of the television set.

John Gatto is a teacher who says he was quickly able to discern which students in his classes were heavy TV watchers. According to him, their behavior stood out as a clear indicator of their...

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