Many critics assert that TV is responsible for “dumbing” down’ society. Many others argue that television contributes to a shared culture, which exceeds geographic and ethnic restrictions by tackling the ‘hyper real’. One thing is of certainty and that is television’s influential role in transforming society from one that is dominated by print to one that is dominated by image. The Medium is in fact the message, as Marshall McLuhan once said.
This article examines the 10 ways television influences people’s behavior. How has it changed society’s perception, beliefs, and attitudes to life and stereotypes? Let’s take a look.
Violence on television distorts violence as being good and acceptable. American children watch approximately 4 hours of television a day. Regrettably, today’s television programming is violent and influences children’s behavior and views on violence. Many studies have shown children becoming immune and numb to violence, acceptant of violence as a way to resolve problems and wanting to imitate what they observe on television.
Cigarette companies were one of the first to advertise on television. Many actors and characters on television are still frequently showed smoking cigars, cigarettes and experimenting with other drugs. When exposed to enormous advertising like this, viewers are prone to smoke even more. They thus see smoking as something that is the norm.
Not all profane language is censored on television. Many shows stipulate that viewer discretion is advised. The more times swearing and profanity is used on television, the more it can be seen as the norm. Children especially are likely to repeat what they hear because they find the language funny. Picking up on cues are very easy for children.
The media creates the ideal image of females and males, especially on television. Up until recently you would hardly see someone who is obese starring in a major role on television. You usually would have someone who is slim, muscular, and in perfect physique etc. Many people want to conform to these stereotypes. They also would like to be accepted by peers. They try to mimic the perfect/ideal shape exhibited on television.
5. Moral Decay:
Many television critics believe that television promotes cupidity and disregard for social responsibility. Daytime television is one example of this portrayal as it illustrate bank robberies, mafia wars, theft, murder etc. Critics have argued that such television shows have contributed to the moral decay or even rot in the society.
6. Promotes racial and ethnic stereotypes:
Media stereotypes are unavoidable, especially in the entertainment and news industries, which need to attract wide audiences. Stereotypes are like codes which give audiences a common feel of a person or group of people; whether it is their class, ethnicity or race, gender, sexual orientation, social role or occupation. Sometimes these stereotypes reduce people to simplicity, transform assumptions, and are problematic because they justify the position of the person in power.
7. Stimulates consumerism:
Many television viewers really are intrigued by the advertisements on television. Television shows are purposely cut into segments for this purpose. One perfect example and stereotype is Peggy Bundy who was obsessed with Oprah and the shopping channel.
8. Expand imagination:
There are television shows and channels which help expand the imagination of not only kids but adults as well. Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood was one example of a show which sparked children’s creativity and artistic abilities. Similarly do the Discovery Channel, History Channel and the Food Network.
Interaction deflects the feeling of loneliness and eliminates depression. The behavior of different people, especially children may change knowing there is a faux relationship.
10. Television is addictive:
There are sneak previews as well as enticing commercials as well as stories which help people remain glued to television. By conditioning people to watch more and more television, the medium is supporting obesity.