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A new way of

looking at
television shows

Television is teaching all the time. It does more


educating than the schools and all the other
institutions of higher learning
- Marshall
McLuhan

Definitions of
Television
Terminology

Affiliate
affiliate
verb
filt/
1.
officially attach or connect (a subsidiary group or a person) to an
organization.
"the college is affiliated with the University of Wisconsin"
synonyms:
associate with, unite with, combine with, join (up) with, link up
with,team up with, ally with, align with, band together with, federate
with,amalgamate with, merge with; More

noun
filt/
1.
a person or organization officially attached to a
larger body.
"the company established links with British
affiliates"

MTRCB
Movie and Television Review and Classification
Board (Filipino: Lupon sa Pagrerepaso at
Pag-uuri ng Sine at Telebisyon; abbreviated as
MTRCB) is a Philippine government
agency responsible for the classification and
review of television programs, movies, home
videos and Videogames.

Footage
footage
fooodij/
noun
1.
a length of film made for movies or television.
"film footage of the riot"
2.
size or length measured in feet.
"the square footage of the room"

Network
network
netwrk/
noun
1.
an arrangement of intersecting horizontal and vertical lines.
"a network of arteries"
2.
a group or system of interconnected people or things.
"a trade network"
"a network of friends"

verb
1.
connect as or operate with a network.
"the stock exchanges have proven to be
resourceful in networking these deals"

Newsworthy
newsworthy
adjective \-wr-th\
: interesting or important enough to report as
news

Nielsen Ratings
A published survey which depicts the viewing
habits of an audience. The ratings express the
size and scope of the viewing audience
in terms of total number of viewers, share of
the total available audience, and demographic
breakdown, to name a few categories. The
ratings are used
when media outlets market to advertising
clients.

Prime Time
noun
: the time in the evening when the largest
number of people are watching television
: the television shows that are on during prime
time
: the highest or most difficult level of use

Situational Comedy
sitcom
sitkm/
noun
informal
a situation comedy.

Sitcom is short for situation comedy. Its a


funny TV show with a realistic setting, like an
apartment full of wacky roommates or a
restaurant where a regular cast of characters
cracks jokes from week to week.

Soap opera
soap opera
noun
a television or radio drama series dealing
typically with daily events in the lives of the
same group of characters.

Reality TV Show
NOUN
[MASS NOUN]
Television programmes in which ordinary people are
continuously filmed, designed to be entertaining
rather than informative.
noun
television programmes focusing on members of the
public living in conditions created specially by the
programme makers

The Effects of
Television
M. RUSSELL BALLARD
Of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles

This has been another wonderful conference, brothers and sisters.


I am sure we all appreciate the inspired and timely messages we
have heard. They have been translated simultaneously into
twenty-nine languages, many of which have been broadcast via
satellite and television to millions of people.
The wonder of television causes me to believe that Philo T.
Farnsworth, back in 1927, must surely have been inspired of the
Lord to develop this remarkable medium of communication. As
you know, Brother Farnsworth was a member of the Church.
Applying his scientific skills, he brought to the world this
marvelous invention, which I believe is to be used for the
primary purpose of furthering the work of the Lord.
In the past sixty years, television has become a major industry in
the world. It is estimated that more than 750 million television
sets are owned by people living in 160 countries.
Approximately 2.5 billion people view television broadcasting
every day.

Most of us recognize both the many benefits and the many


challenges that come from television in our modern, fastpaced world. Some of the benefits, besides listening to
the teaching of the gospel, we can receive by merely
touching a button include receiving instant reports of
local and world events and updates on weather; watching
fantasy; exploring geography; living history; enjoying
good theater, dance, and music; and experiencing culture
from almost every country in the world.
For these kinds of programs we praise the industry.
Unfortunately, however, far too much programming is
not wholesome and uplifting but is violent, degrading,
and destructive to moral values. This kind of television
offends the Spirit of the Lord; therefore, I express a word
of warning and caution about such programming.

Good families face very significant challenges in controlling


the use of television and videotapes in their homes. I agree
with Dr. Victor B. Cline when he said, I am convinced by
a vast amount of research that the images, fantasies,
and models which we are repeatedly exposed to in
advertisements, entertainment, novels, motion pictures,
and other works of art can and do affect the selfimage and, later, the behavior of nearly all young people
and adults too. (Address at Tidewater Assembly
on Family Life, Norfolk, Virginia.)
On another occasion, Dr. Cline said that the mental diet is as
important as the nutritional diet. The amount of violence
a child sees at 7 predicts how violent he will be at 17, 27,
and 37. Childrens minds are like bankswhatever
you put in, you get back 10 years later with interest.

He said that violent television teaches children, step-by-step, how


to commit violent acts, and it desensitizes them to the horror of
such behavior and to the feelings of victims. Dr. Cline said that
America is suffering from an explosion of interpersonal violence
like we have never seen before. The violence is because of
violence in our entertainment. (See Therapist says children
who view TV violence tend to become violent, Deseret
News, 24 Mar. 1989, p. 2B.)
Some may be surprised to know that in the average American home,
the television set is on just under seven hours each day, and more
than sixty-six million Americans who are under age nineteen live
in these homes. A recent magazine article included this statement:
Once, televisions window on the world mirrored
solid family ties, heroes drawn in bright primary colors, and a
society of permanence and belonging. Now, its clear that
our TV shows are showing quite a different picture. In fact, its
arguable that television is no longer a mere window on our
world but thevalue-setter itself. (Another View of the

Highlights of some alarming


findings from research studies
conducted over the past eight to
ten years on the effects of
television when watched more
than two hours a day without the
careful selection of programs:

1. Before television, children played together


more often, played outdoors more, spent more
time being creative and inventive, and read
more. Parents and children spent more time
together, talked together more, shared more
joint projects and chores, and ate more meals
together. (See Ellen B. De Franco, TV OnOff:
Better Family Use of Television, Santa
Monica, Calif., Goodyear Publishing Co.,
1980, pp. 56.)

2. Television is psychologically addictive. (Ibid.,


p. 4.)
3. Television is a physically passive activity and
generally discourages creative play. It can
encourage a certain kind of passivity which
leads to a show me or entertain me
orientation by children. (See Television and
Behavior, Rockville, Md.: National Institute of
Mental Health, 1987, pp. 4546.)

4. Television tends to overpower and desensitize


a childs sense of sympathy for suffering. (See
Kate Moody, Growing Up on Television: The
TV EffectA Report to Parents, New York:
Times Books, 1980, pp. 9192.)

5. Some children lose the ability to learn from


reality because lifes experiences are more
complicated than those seen on the screen.
Teachers and parents, therefore, suffer by
comparison when they cannot solve problems
in thirty to sixty minutes. (See Ben Logan and
Kate Moody, eds., Television Awareness
Training: The Viewers Guide for Family and
Community, Nashville: Abingdon, 1979, p.
43.)

Volumes of research data show the detrimental effects of television,


but I just say that television and videocassette viewing by
youngsters has a significant impact on their behavior. We must not
take lightly the confession of a recently executed killer on the
impact pornography and violence in media had on his life. The
Apostle Paul warned that men can become past feeling
[giving] themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all
uncleanness with greediness. (Eph. 4:19.) In Proverbs we read,
As [a man] thinketh , so is he. (Prov. 23:7.) A mind exposed
to violence and immorality cannot escape the negative impact of
such exposure.
President Gordon B. Hinckley said:
A survey of influential television writers and executives in
Hollywood has shown that they are far less religious than the
general public. While nearly all of the 104 Hollywood
professionals interviewed had a religious background, 45 percent
now say they have no religion, and of the other 55 percent only 7
percent say they attend a religious service as much as once a
month.

This group has had a major role in shaping the shows whose themes and stars
have become staples in our popular culture (Los Angeles Times, 19 Feb. 1983,
part 2, page 5).
These are the people [TV script writers and executives] who, through the
medium of entertainment, are educating us in the direction of their own
standards, which in many cases are diametrically opposed to the standards of
the gospel. (Ensign, Nov. 1983, pp. 4546.)
A Time magazine article states:
This upsurge in openness has been linked by some critics to cutbacks in the
network departments of standards and practicesthe censors who review
shows and commercials for offensive material. The ranks of these
watchdogs were drastically reduced: from a peak of 75 to 80 per network
during the 1970s to 35 to 40 today at ABC and fewer than 30 each at CBS and
NBC. (Where Are the Censors? 12 Dec. 1988, p. 95.) Televised violence has
become so pervasive that the average high school student by graduation has
seen eighteen thousand murders and many other acts of violence and sin. This
being the case today, more parental review and monitoring is needed to protect
our families from the current flood of TV violence and the effect it has on us.

Randal A. Wright in his book Families in Danger wrote:


It is possible to trace the decline in American television from its
original programs. As an example, a prime-time (7:00 to
10:00 P.M.) schedule check going back thirty years found that in
1955, no violent, crime-oriented programs were offered. By
1986, twenty-nine hours of violent programs were being offered.
(Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1988, pp. 4546.)
I believe that the number of violent programs has increased
substantially since 1986.
Mr. Wright continued: Not only is violence increasing on TV, but
every form of immorality, vice, and corruption is also being
paraded before our familys eyes in ever-increasing amounts.
Ask yourself if the same kinds of sexually related scenes and
messages of all too many programs of today were found in the
programs of twenty years ago. We are being exposed to
growing amounts of inappropriate material if we choose to
watch TV without being selective. (Ibid., p. 46.)

In the Church, we often state the couplet: Be in the world


but not of the world. As we observe television shows
that make profanity, violence, and infidelity commonplace
and even glamorous, we often wish we could lock out the
world in some way and isolate our families from it all.
Perhaps the proper response to outrageous behavior is
outrage, or, more to the point, the proper response to
outrageous television is outrage. I express my own and
this Churchs disappointment, disagreement, and even
outrage with television that turns our attention and
sometimes our inclinations toward violence, self-serving
greed, profanity, disrespect for traditional values, sexual
promiscuity, and deviance.

Nephi predicted that in our day Satan would rage in the


hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to
anger against that which is good. (2 Ne. 28:20.)
Satans evil use of television contributes to the
increased wickedness in our society.
Perhaps we should state the couplet previously
mentioned as two separate admonitions. First, Be in
the world. Be involved; be informed. Try to be
understanding and tolerant and to appreciate diversity.
Make meaningful contributions to society through
service and involvement. Second, Be not of the
world. Do not follow wrong paths or bend to
accommodate or accept what is not right.

We should strive to change the corrupt and immoral


tendencies in television and in society by keeping
things that offend and debase out of our homes. In
spite of all of the wickedness in the world, and in
spite of all the opposition to good that we find on
every hand, we should not try to take ourselves or
our children out of the world. Jesus said, The
kingdom of heaven is like unto leaven, or yeast.
(Matt. 13:33.) We are to lift the world and help all
to rise above the wickedness that surrounds us.
The Savior prayed to the Father:

I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of


the world, but that thou shouldest keep them
from the evil. (John 17:15.)
Members of the Church need to influence more
than we are influenced. We should work to
stem the tide of sin and evil instead of
passively being swept along by it. We each
need to help solve the problem rather than
avoid or ignore it.

I like this simple little poem:


All the water in the world
No matter how it tried
Could never sink the smallest ship
Unless it got inside.
All the evil of the world
And every kind of sin
Could never damn a human soul
Unless we let it in.

We can live in the world, brothers and sisters, without


letting the world into us. We have the gospel message
that can carry men and women buoyantly through the
mist of darkness (1 Ne. 8:23) to the source of all
light. We can raise children who have been taught to
discern and to make personal righteous decisions.
The Lord does not need a society that hides and isolates
itself from the world. Rather, he needs stalwart
individuals and families who live exemplary
lives in the world and demonstrate that joy and
fulfillment come not of the world but through the
spirit and the doctrine of Jesus Christ.
Now, what can we as individuals and families do to
reverse the negative trends of television? Let me
review with you some suggestions.

Families that limit television viewing to a maximum of two hours a day of carefully
selected programs may see the following significant changes in family relationships:

1. Value setting will be taught and reinforced by the


family. Families will learn how to establish values
and how to reason together.
2. Relationships between parents and youth will
increase in families.
3. Homework will be completed with less pressure
of time.
4. Personal conversations will increase substantially.

5. Childrens imaginations will come back to life.


6. Each family member will become a
discriminating selector and evaluator of
programs.
7. Parents can become family leaders again.
8. Good reading habits may be substituted for
television viewing.

Brothers and sisters, we can write to local radio and


television stations and to cable and national networks to
express our concerns. The sponsors and advertisers who
pay for programs and advertising that are offensive would
most likely appreciate hearing from us also.
In my opinion, we must make our influence felt by
joining with other concerned people who oppose
television programming that tears down and destroys
the values that have made our families and our
countries strong. Latter-day Saints are not alone in this
concern. Many individuals, churches, and other
organizations are raising their voices. Let us join with
them, brothers and sisters, to persuade TV script writers,
executives, and sponsors to use their talents and
resources to help build a better and safer world.

President George Bush, in his inaugural address, called for a


kinder face of the nation and a gentler face of the world.
(See Investors Daily, 23 Jan. 1989, p. 11.) Let it begin by a
kinder and gentler television throughout the world.
The prophet Mormon said that each of us is given the Spirit
of Christ to know good from evil; everything that invites us
to do good is of God. On the other hand, anything that
persuades us to do evil is of the devil, for he and those who
follow him persuade no one to do good. (See Moro. 7:16
18) This simple test will guide us in judging television and
other media programs.
May the Lord bless us and help us protect ourselves, our
families, and the spirit of our homes, and help us improve
our world through working for improved television
programming.

Reel Life vs. Real Life


BYJOSEPHWALKER

One reason TV and the movies distort life is


that many of those who make the films and
sitcoms are out of touch with the fulness of the
truth.

There are a few things I learned very early in my


career as a television critic:
No problem is so big it that cant be solved in
twenty-three minutes (thirty, counting
commercials);
For all of its talk about public service and art,
commercial television exists to sell soap;
There is often no discernible correlation
between the real world and Hollywoods
perception of reality.

If you watch much television, you already know about the first two
itemsespecially if youve heard about the TV ratings system and
how it works. But you may not be as familiar with Hollywoods
skewed view of the world in which we livea view that, more
often than not, finds itself at odds with eternal truth.
In trying to reconcile that eternal truththe gospel principles we are
taught to live bywith what is billed as real world entertainment,
it helps to take a look at how basic entertainment industry
misperceptions shape the reality portrayed on TV and in movies.
I first became aware of the Lalaland mentality during a Hollywood
press conference I attended with about 120 other writers from
around the country. We were interviewing the producer of a new
television series, a program featuring a tempestuous romance
between a slightly chubby, gray-haired, grandfatherly detective and
a gorgeous twenty-year-old model. One of the writers asked if there
was a reason that several programs with similar premises were
being previewed for the press.

Are you kidding? the slightly chubby, gray-haired,


grandfatherly producer responded. This is going on all over
the place. Young women are discovering older men.
Most of the critics around me chuckled and shook their heads.
The critic next to me, knowing I was new, directed my
attention to a beautiful twenty-something woman in the back
of the room. Thats his reality, he whispered.
In that producers world, beautiful young women are often
interested in powerful men nearly three times their age. For
him, thats just the way life is, and so he thinks nothing of
producing a TV series about such a standard relationship.
His ideas are reinforced by Hollywood peers who approach
the scenario from a similar perspective. And he seems truly
puzzled when critics suggest that the relationship is not
going to be acceptable in the eyes of most viewers. (In fact,
viewers never did accept it; the series lasted only a few
weeks.)

The experience taught me an important lesson:


reel life (the world as it is reflected on TV
and movie screens) often bears only a passing
resemblance to real life (the world most of us
live in)especially when we are trying to live
within a gospel framework.

nine semi-indisputable facts about Hollywoods


most powerful peoplewriters, directors,
producers, and studio and network executives
that will help us as we try to resolve the
conflicts between the realities of our world and
theirs.

1. Most of them are male. There are some incredibly talented


men running film studios, producing TV programs, and
creating Hollywood magic. But if most of the perspectives
we see expressed dramatically are male perspectives, were
only seeing half of the story. That explains a lot about the
way women are presented, doesnt it?
2. Most of them are Caucasian. Of course, there are notable
exceptions, with some significant inroads having been made
by black artists. Where are the additional perspectives of
Hispanics, Asians, Polynesians, or Native Americans? Any
way we look at it, Hollywoods ethnic mix represents an
extremely narrow cross-section of society.
3. Most of them are forty-five to sixty years old. The
dominance of this age group is another limitation on
perspective. Many of these people have lived and worked in
the reel world for their entire professional careers. No
wonder theyve lost touch.

4. Most of them are wealthy. While its true that many Lalalanders
experienced poverty in their childhood, most have forgotten what its like
to do without. They dont understand the economic realities and social
pressures that face working-class families.
5. A handful of producers is responsible for most of what you see.Skim
across the television dial five minutes before the hourabout the time
programs are ending. Youll notice the same production credits coming
up again and again. The film world is a little more diverse, but the same
people tend to make movies year after year. Of course, the main reason
some of those names show up over and over in film and television credits
is that these creative people are talented and the public pays to see their
work. But the price we pay includes another limitation on perspective.
6. They belong to a tight-knit fraternity. Those involved in the
entertainment industry go to the same parties, talk to the same people,
read the same publications, often share the same philosophies. Its
awfully hard for a new person to break into the group. Ditto a new
thought or idea.

7. Judging by their works, most of them are irreligious. While many Lalalanders
have some religious training in their background, most have turned their backs on
organized religion. It shows. Think about it: when was the last time you saw
religion or religious people portrayed positively on TV or in a movie? Film critic
Michael Medved accuses Hollywood of engaging in an attempt to undermine
organized religion. 1 Im not sure its quite that subversive. Religion just isnt
important to many of the people who make movies and television shows, so they
assume it isnt important to anyone else, either. Thats the religious perspective
you see reflected on TV and movie screens most often: indifference, seasoned
with a dash or two of misunderstanding and mistrust.
8. Judging by their work, most of them are amoral. Many in the entertainment
industry are not sure if there is such a thing as morality. These individuals toy with
the notion of right and wrong as if it is something that can be manipulated to suit
different conditions and circumstances. They twist values to suit whatever social
trend is chic at the moment. Goodness and virtue are relative for them, determined
more by convenience and impulse than any sort of absolute standard.
Does that reflect life for the ordinary viewer? I dont think so. Most of us cling to
long-established values and standardsmarriage, with fidelity in the relationship,
for example. But is this reality reflected proportionately on film and television
screens? We can scan our newspapers TV and movie listings and see the
deficiency of values.

9. Most of them are powerful. Because of the tremendous


amount of money that can be earned from a film or television
production, many of the creative people responsible for it
carry enormous clout. Often they get used to having their own
way and being treated as if they are more important than
anyone else. Its got to be difficult to maintain a clear
perspective when you only look at the world in one direction:
down.
Of course, theyre not all that way, any more than theyre all
male, Caucasian, or irreligious. But the nine characteristics
listed above are true of many in the film and television
industry, which helps explain some of the offerings on TV and
in feature films, and also helps explain why some very
important elementsespecially spiritual elementsare often
missing from Hollywood entertainment. Those who produce it
probably believe sincerely that they are presenting life as it is,
when in fact they are merely peeking at reality through a very

So whats wrong with that? Doesnt all art reflect the artists
perspective on the world in which he or she lives? Yes, and we seem
to innately understand this concept with most art forms. But for
some reason we dont make the same aesthetic allowances for film
that we make for sculpture, music, literature, and painting. Perhaps
film art tricks us by its very nature. It looks so realistic that we
forget that the view of life on film is rarely more than someones
dressed-up fantasy. Too many of us buy into the belief that
Hollywoods reality is well, real, and we wonder whats wrong
with us if our lives arent like that. Then, sadly, some of us set out to
conform to a reality that only exists in somebody elses imagination.
Thats when we run into problems. Its challenging to live Gods
standards of modesty and morality, for example, if you are carrying
around the mistaken impression that youre the only one in the
entire world who is living them. And program after program
presenting life-styles and relationships in violation of Heavenly
Fathers commandmentsand making sins seem not only
commonplace but somehow rightcan make it tougher to choose
wisely.

It should be noted that many in the film and television


industries deny any cause-and-effect relationship
between what is portrayed on screen and how viewers
choose to live their lives. Once again, Michael
Medved energetically challenges that denial.
The leaders of the entertainment industry regularly
downplay the significance of their own work,
insisting that the fantasies they have created have no
influence on anyone, Medved wrote recently. The
networks and the studios have commissioned
expensive studies from various experts to support
their appallingly illogical contention that violence on
screen has no connection to violence in real life, and
that intensely sexual material does nothing to
encourage promiscuity.

This same industry then turns around and asks advertisers


to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars for 30 seconds of
air time in the hope that this fleeting exposure will directly
alter the publics buying behavior! Dont they grasp the
internal contradiction here? On the one hand, were told
that an hour of television programming has no real world
consequences whatsoever, and on the other were led to
believe that the 60-second spots that occasionally interrupt
this program are powerful enough to change public
perceptions of everything from canned goods to
candidates!

I happen to believe that the industry is right when it touts


the impact of media images, but I cant accept the
contention that motion pictures and song lyrics and music
videos and TV shows are somehow less influential than
commercials. 2
I agree with Medved; media images do leave a lasting
impression on the mindand sometimes on the heart and
soul as well. Admittedly, those impressions and images are
often wonderfully positive and helpful. But what do we do
when they are not? How should we react when the teenage
heroes of a popular television series decide to have sexual
relations because to do otherwise would be, according to
the series creators, unrealistic? Or when a popular
cartoon character is asked to pray over a meal and says,
Dear God, we paid for all this stuff ourselves, so thanks
for nothing? Or when the traditional family all but
disappears from prime time and the feature film?

It seems to me there are four things we might do to


respond to media realities that run counter to
gospel principles and standards.
First, it can be helpful to develop a healthy
skepticism about anything we see or hear in the
popular mediawhether it purports to be realistic
or not. We can recognize that no matter how
accurately a story is retold, its still a story designed
to capture viewers. Yes, we want to be accurate, a
docudrama producer once told me, but our first
priority is to make a good movie. If that requires
that we create a sort of heightened reality, so be it.
In other words, expecting absolute realism from
entertainment media founded on fantasy is
unrealistic.

Second, seek out entertainment that supports gospel teachings


while it pleases aesthetically. And if you cant find very
many acceptable movies and TV programs, at least dont
lend your support to those that defy Gods standards. The
First Presidencys counsel to youth of the Church applies to
all of us: Dont be afraid to walk out of a movie [or] turn
off a television set if whats being presented does not
meet your Heavenly Fathers standards. (For the Strength
of Youth, Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of
Latter-day Saints, 1990, p. 12.) Whether we intend it or not,
every time we buy a ticket to an exploitative movie, we tell
Hollywood that thats what we want to see. Ditto for sleazy
TV programs. The only way well see more creative effort
put into entertainment properties that espouse traditional
values is if a few of them start making money, or if the
objectionable materials stop making so much money.

As long as were talking about realism, lets be realistic about this. I know
that there arent a lot of exciting, high-quality offerings out there that
are consistent with LDS standards. I also know how hard it is to resist a
movie or a TV show that everyone is talking about. Each of us has to
decide for ourselves how high were going to list entertainment
among our priorities. But Hollywood doesnt know if we close our eyes
during certain scenes, or if we disapprove of the language that is used,
or if we really, really wish that sexuality hadnt been so graphically
portrayed. All Hollywood knows or cares about is that we laid down our
six bucks for the movie or tuned in to the program. As far as the folks
producing this material are concerned, thats the ultimate reality.
Third, we can and should voice our objections to inappropriate material,
especially if we feel we have been exposed to it as a result of
misleading advertising. Television stations and advertisers should be
notified of your concerns (preferably in written form; telephone
messages are too easily ignored or forgotten). Film producers need to
hear the perspective of real people. And dont hesitate to ask for your
money back if you walk out of a movie. While its true your one voice
may not make a difference, your voice joined with numerous others just

Finally, we can think about the people and situations we see


portrayed dramatically and reconcile them to gospel standards.
Whether something is realistic isnt nearly as important as
whether it is right. Perhaps we could ask ourselves: if that
couple is really so deeply in love, why dont they make a
commitment to each other through marriage? Arent there more
literate and descriptive words that could be used in this situation
than crude and vulgar profanity? Wouldnt forgiveness be a
better course of action than violent revenge?
The thirteenth Article of Faith encourages us to seek out that
which is virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy.
Such things may not always represent life as it is. But they
certainly represent life as it should be. As far as our Heavenly
Father is concerned, thats the goal to shoot foraesthetically
or otherwise.
And thats the only reality that counts.

The Good and Bad


Effects of TV on
Children

It is hard to avoid television if you are a kid.


People in the house are usually tuned in to TV
- siblings as well as parents. In some homes,
the television is perpetually "on" even without
anyone watching. It is common for parents
and caregivers to use TV as a substitute
babysitter. Also, many parents buy videos
that they think can make their kids smart. But
how does watching TV really affect children?

The bad news is, the majority of


experts think that a TV/videodriven culture has bad effects on
kids - and may prevent kids from
being smart. They cite the
following:

TV provides no educational benefits for a child under age 2.


Worse, it steals time for activities that actually develop her
brain, like interacting with other people and playing. A child
learns a lot more efficiently from real interaction - with people
and things, rather than things she sees on a video screen.
TV viewing takes away the time that your child needs to
develop important skills like language, creativity, motor, and
social skills. These skills are developed in the kids first two
years (a critical time for brain development) through play,
exploration, and conversation. Your kids language skills, for
example, do not improve by passively listening to the TV. It is
developed by interacting with people, when talking and
listening is used in the context of real life.
TV viewing numbs your kid's mind as it prevents your child
from exercising initiative, being intellectually challenged,
thinking analytically, and using his imagination.

TV viewing takes away time from reading and improving


reading skills through practice (Comstock, 1991). Kids
watching cartoons and entertainment television during preschool years have poorer pre-reading skills at age 5 (Macbeth,
1996). Also, kids who watch entertainment TV are also less
likely to read books and other print media (Wright & Huston,
1995).
According to Speech and language expert Dr. Sally Ward, 20
years of research show that kids who are bombarded by
background TV noise in their homes have trouble paying
attention to voices when there is also background noise.
Kids who watch a lot of TV have trouble paying attention to
teachers because they are accustomed to the fast-paced visual
stimulation on TV. Kids who watch TV more than they talk to
their family have a difficult time adjusting from being visual
learners to aural learners (learning by listening). They also
have shorter attention spans.

School kids who watch too much TV also tend to work


less on their homework. When doing homework with
TV on the background, kids tend to retain less skill and
information. When they lose sleep because of TV, they
become less alert during the day, and this results in
poor school performance.
A long-term study conducted by the Millennium Cohort
Study and published in 2013 found that children who
watched more than 3 hours of television, videos, or
DVDs a day had a higher chance of conduct problems,
emotional symptoms and relationship problems by age
7 than children who did not. Notably, they did not find
the same problem with children who played video
games for the same amount of time.

TV exposes your kid to negative influences, and promotes


negative behavior. TV shows and commercials usually show
violence, alcohol, drug use and sex in a positive light. The mind
of your kid is like clay. It forms early impressions on what it sees,
and these early impressions determine how he sees the world and
affect his grown-up behavior. For instance, twenty years of
research has shown that children who are more exposed to media
violence behave more aggressively as kids and when they are
older. They are taught by TV that violence is the way to resolve
conflict as when a TV hero beats up a bad guy to subdue him.
Kids who watch too much TV are usually overweight, according
to the American Medical Association. Kids often snack on junk
food while watching TV. They are also influenced by
commercials to consume unhealthy food. Also, they are not
running, jumping, or doing activities that burn calories and
increase metabolism. Obese kids, unless they change their
habits, tend to be obese when they become adults.

Researchers from the University of Sydney report a link


between total screen time and retinal artery width in
children. Kids with lots of screen time were found to have
narrow artery in their eyes, which may indicate heart risk.
TV watching also affects a childs health and athletic ability.
The more television a child watches, even in the first years
of life, the more likely he is to be obese and less muscularly
fit, according to a study by the University of Montreal. Even
though your kid does not aspire to be a football star, his
athletic abilities are important not only for physical health,
but predicting how physically active he will be as an adult.
Every hourly increase in daily television watching from two
and a half years old is also associated with bullying by
classmates, and physical prowess at kindergarten, said
Professor Linda Pagani of the University of Montreal and
the CHU Sainte-Justine children's hospital.

Some experts, however, believe


that TV is not all that bad. They
qualify though that viewing TV
can be good if it is done in
moderation, and if the program
being watched is selected:

Some TV shows can educate, inform and inspire. It


can be more effective than books or audiotapes in
teaching your kid about processes like how a plant
grows or how to bake a cake.
Studies show that kids who watch educational and
non-violent childrens shows do better on reading and
math tests than those who do not watch these
programs.
Kids who watch informative and educational shows as
preschoolers tend to watch more informative and
educational shows when they get older. They use TV
effectively as a complement to school learning. On
the other hand, kids who watch more entertainment
program watch fewer informative programs as they
get older (Macbeth, 1996).

Preschoolers who viewed educational


programs tend to have higher grades, are less
aggressive and value their studies more when
they reach high school, according to a longterm study (Anderson, et. al, 2001).
Finally, scientists from the University of
Siena found that children experience a
soothing, painkilling effect by watching
cartoons. So perhaps, a little entertainment TV
can be a source of relief to kids who are
stressed or are in pain.