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Advent of Televisions and People’s Idea of the Human Body, Values and Norms

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Television: The Bad

Television has become as huge part of American society from the moment it was invented. The first electric television was invented by a man named Philo Taylor Farnsworth in the year 1927 (Hur). Although it was first invented in 1927, the first commercially produced television sets were shown to the public in September of 1928 (Hur). The first television sets were produced and released to the public in 1938 (Hur). After it was first released to the public, it became an instant hit the public’s eye. The first RCA color television systems were first sold in 1954 (Hur). And then by 1966, color television programming was being broadcast all across America would cause a great increase in the number of sales of color televisions (Hur). The first ever commercial was aired on July 1, 1941. This advertisement was for a Bulova watch and the advertisement was first aired on NBC (Hur). The invention of the television has changed American life in a negative fashion due to the fact that it can shape people’s values negatively, makes people more violent, increases obesity in children, distorts people’s body image, makes people less informed, and leads to a decline in quality time with family.

The invention of television can negatively impact a person’s values in life. This quote states, “Psychologist Jim Taylor, Ph.D., argues in Psychology Today … [h]e writes that problems like increases in school cheating, cheating in sports and even corporate greed are symptoms of a decline in American values that we can — at least in part — attribute to reality television” (Striepe). This illustrates the idea that the invention of television results in an increase of cheating in both sports and school, along with corporate greed (Striepe). Reality television has been a main cause in the decline of American values in life. If reality television never existed then television would not have had as much of a negative impact on American values (Thompson). According to a study by Steven Martin and John Robinson from the University of Maryland, people spend 30 percent more of their time watching television if they are unhappy with their lives (Unhappy People). The study began in 1975 and ran through 2006 and had been conducted using 30,000 people (Unhappy People). This study shows how the invention of television had negatively impacted American life as the more unhappy a person is, the more time they tend to spend watching television. Television has produced many reality shows over the years and these shows are what mainly result in a decline of American values (Striepe).

Television also makes people increasing more violent (Striepe). Violent television shows tend to cause people to act more violent (Striepe). This quote shows the impact of violent television programs. It states, “According to Dr. David Ostroff, chairman of the department of television and communication at the University of Florida, one thing that’s changed historically is how we study this potential link. ‘In the past, researchers tried to see if watching a violent TV show caused people to immediately behave more violently, but more modern studies are concerned with the long-term impacts of violent imagery on television’” (Striepe). This shows that violent television programs do not have an immediate impact on a person, but over time the continuous watching of the violent programs can negatively impact a person and cause them to act more violent (Striepe). In a study conducted between 1977 and 1992 studied 557 and their habits of watching television and then they revisited them when they were young adults (Striepe). According to the study, “The study found that early exposure to TV violence as children was a predictor of aggressive behavior later on” (Striepe). This shows how constant viewing of violent television programs can result in greater violent tendencies in the long run. The increased violent tendencies caused by watching violent television programs shows how the invention of the television changed American life in a negative way (Striepe).

An increase in television use for children also causes an increase in childhood obesity (Striepe). The Harvard School of Public Health says, “There is a strong correlation between the number of hours our kids spend in front of the boob tube and their weight, and research shows that actively limiting a child’s TV viewing time can help reduce his risk of obesity” (Striepe). The food marketing advertisements also play a big part in childhood obesity. While the child is watching television and an advertisement comes up for an unhealthy food or snack, the child will want to go and eat that snack now (Striepe). It is stated that, “Food marketing encourages kids to eat more and to make unhealthy choices when they do eat” (Striepe). Also, more advertisements are based upon unhealthy food choices like chips or sodas or candy instead of more healthy options like broccoli or other vegetables (Striepe). Children tend to watch a lot of television and the longer they choose to spend watching television, the more weight they will gain and the more obese they will become. The children that choose to watch more television instead of going outside and exercising tend to have a higher wight amount than those who go outside and exercise (Striepe). The increase in childhood obesity illustrates how television has changed American life for the worse and negatively impacts people’s lives (Striepe).

Television also causes people to feel worse about they look (Striepe). Woman look to be just as perfect as those they see while watching television. This can result in, “not only to low self esteem and an unhealthy body image but can contribute also to serious health issues, like eating disorders” (Striepe). The ideal image/body type of a woman has gotten thinner and thinner since the 1940s and the more thinner woman seen in television programs alters how women see their bodies (Striepe). A study conducted in 1996 established that 10 year olds became increasingly unhappy with their bodies after seeing video clips or music videos from the popular television show, “Friends” (Striepe). Although it is more thought about women being affected by seeing an “ideal” body image on television, men can also think the same way. A study conducted in 2006 with male college students found that the more media/television they saw, including things like television shows and music videos, the worse they tended to feel about their bodies (Striepe). This shows how both men and women can be affected by actors and actresses images of their “ideal” bodies on television. The fact that television helps twist people’s body images that they thrive for depicts how television has negatively changed American life and changed how people think they should look (Striepe).

Television also causes people to become less informed (Striepe). News stations go 24 hours a day and report on various topics and people argue about how divided the country is (Thompson). Although people may not believe it, “but the 24-hour news stations broadcasting this message likely play a powerful role in that divisiveness” (Striepe). Many different 24 hour news stations sprung up after CNN was first founded by Ted Turner (Striepe). The most successful news stations are those that have a decided point of view like whether they are conservative or liberal (Striepe). News stations like Fox, which was founded in 1996, was created to oppose the “liberal bias” in media (Striepe). Fox stays ahead of networks like CNN because they have a set point of view that they choose to show while CNN stays in a neutral point of view while reporting their news (Striepe). A study conducted in 2012, “found that people who primarily got their news from partisan sources — like Fox and MSNBC — knew less about current events than people who watched local or more unbiased news” (Striepe). This displays how television has changed American life for the worse as it makes it so people are less informed from news stations and are fed certain views from certain networks (Striepe).

Television has also led to a decline in the amount of quality time people spend their families (Striepe). It is said that, “Families spend more than 31 hours watching television each week, on average, while spending only around 38 minutes of the entire week having screen-free interactions with each other” (Striepe). This is way smaller number than how it was before the television was invented when people would spend a drastically more amount of time with their families (Striepe). People have begun to have multiple televisions spread throughout their households (Bianculli). This makes it so people watch a greater amount of television on their own instead of maybe with their families, although that does not count as quality time (Striepe). Families also have begun to have IPads and IPhones which television can also be watched on (Striepe). All of the amount the electronic devices that television is able to be streamed on has caused a huge decline in the amount of quality family time families spend together (Striepe). Television causes families to become more separated from each other and this has a negative impact on a family (Thompson). This conveys how television has negatively changed American life as it has caused families to become more spread apart and also causes families to spend a lesser amount of time with each other and more with their televisions (Striepe).

The invention of the television has changed American life in a negative fashion due to the fact that it can shape people’s values negatively, makes people more violent, increases obesity in children, distorts people’s body image, makes people less informed, and leads to a decline in quality time with family. Television has caused a lot of negative things since it was first invented. Since it causes people to think negatively about themselves in multiple fashions, increases how violent people become from watching violent television shows, causes an increase in childhood obesity due to countless hours in front of the television, and causes a decline in quality family time it has certainly negatively changed American life since its invention. Without television, the American life would be a better thing to be apart of.

Works Cited

  1. Bianculli, David. The Platinum Age of Television. Doubleday, 2016.
  2. Hur, Johnson. ‘History of the Television.’ BeBusinesses, bebusinessed.com/history/history-of-the-television/. Accessed 18 Dec. 2018.
  3. Striepe, Becky. ’10 Ways TV Has Changed American Culture.’ Howstuffworks, 9 Feb. 2013, people.howstuffworks.com/culture-traditions/tv-and-culture/10-ways-tv-changed-american-culture.htm. Accessed 18 Dec. 2018.
  4. Thompson, David. Television: A Biography. Thames & Hudson, 2016.
  5. ‘Unhappy People Watch TV, Happy People Read/Socialize.’ Newswise, 14 Nov. 2008, newswise.com/articles/unhappy-people-watch-tv-happy-people-readsocialize. Accessed 19 Dec. 2018.
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