Television is an undeniable and inescapable part of contemporary culture. Whether you love it or hate it, TV has changed the way we think, communicate, learn, consume, relax and generally spend time. There are both advantages and disadvantages to spending time in front of the television, depending upon the viewing choices you make, how much time you devote to watching, and whether you're using it to enhance or detract from other aspects of your life.
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Television can be a learning tool. For more than 40 years, millions of children across the globe have learnt basic reading and counting skills while watching Big Bird and a host of other characters on "Sesame Street." Fundamental values like humanity, friendship and respect have also been emphasised. Educational programming can also spark an interest in children to read more about a subject they have seen on television. Adults can learn of other lands and cultures from travel programming and brush up on their culinary skills from a vast array of cooking shows. News and political shows can provide TV viewers with the facts to make informed opinions about the world and decisions when voting.
Television can be a boredom buster. Getting caught up in a daily soap opera or weekly reality show can be a real guilty pleasure. The time spent watching a favourite show can be a relaxing diversion from the stress of the day. Comedies can provide us the opportunity to laugh, which has been found to increase circulation and lower blood pressure. When the world is caught up in war and bad economic news, watching a good comedy on TV is a good way to find some much-needed laughs.
Substitution, avoidance and procrastination
Too much TV time can interfere with what can be considered a child's more positive activities such as playing outdoors and exercising, reading books, doing homework, socialising with friends, or enjoying quality family time. Adults who spend a lot of time parked in front of the television can use TV as a way to avoid doing more productive things in their lives. TV can be a tool for procrastination and even isolation.
Inactivity and obesity
The definition of a "couch potato" applies to someone who spends most of his time sitting or lounging idly on a couch, presumably watching television. Add to this the mindless snacking that can accompany a TV binge and it's no wonder how this ritual can lead to weight gain. Not exactly the ideal of healthy living. For children, the lack of activity at a young age can create bad habits that can last a lifetime.
Violence and fear
The preponderance of violence on TV may desensitise a child to it. TV characters often are portrayed exhibiting risky behaviours such as smoking, drinking, inappropriate language and sexual activity. Kids may model their behaviour after characters who commit these aggressive acts. Violence can be especially detrimental to young children, who can be easily frightened. Behavioural problems, nightmares and fear of "the boogey man" in the closet can be consequences of watching too much violence on TV.
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