Wednesday, November 28, 2007

The devastating impact of TV on individuals and society

Last week I received the following very thoughtful email from a woman in New Zealand. She makes many good points. Let me know what you think of her ideas:
22 November 2007

Dear Joanne,

My very first memory as a child watching a black and white television. The programme was the Lone Ranger, and I hated the series with a vengeance, but I made up my mind as a child that I simply wouldn’t watch TV at all. That caused a lot of problems with the family, because TV was “new” and the in thing. As an adolescent, going to films only happened when I had read the book, and knew the ending from the start. Even now, watching DVD’s, I watch the making of it, the producers tracks, out-takes, and interviews before I watch the film. As I have got older and got into research I realise that the way I felt as a child was directly as a result of the stress it produced, and cortisol flooding my body. I couldn’t put it into words then, but whenever the Television was put on, I’d leave the room, and if it was loud, either go outside or right to the other end of the house.

When we were first married my husband had a television. At the age of two, our oldest saw an advertisement on TV called “It’s moments like these you need minties” in a break during a tame kids programme, something like sesame street… The advertisement showed incidents such as when a sculler’s craft sank before the finish, or a horse tripped on a jump. Those sorts of things. Our son crumpled in a distraught heap, and I needed no further impetus to make a decision. The TV was biffed, and we didn’t get one again, until he was 16,and even then it was just a screen for videos. Two years later we connected to TV and the youngest mainly watched animal planet, the history channel and National Geographic. They never watched the news which was then one of the most violent programmes on the box. The oldest never watched it until he was 20.

We do not have TV now, and I rarely have the radio on at all. I chose to keep up to date with the news by looking at newspapers because I can control what and how much I chose to read.

I believe that TV is a major blight in the lives of society today, and we would have been better off without it. It’s addictive, divisive, couch potato engendering, and literally ruins people’s lives, society, and health, depriving people of properly relating and participating IN REAL LIFE. Children whose only connection with others is discussing TV shows are intellectually deprived, and physically challenged. Our oldest who is mid-twenties, is a professional sportsman and coaches children. There are some schools which he hates going to. He says that the majority of the children don’t have any eye-hand co-ordination; they have no initiative; have lost the ability to think laterally; don’t listen, and dish sass because they are hollow and embarrassed at their inability to get it together, so they act “staunch.” He has nothing good to say about the way these children are brought up, and I suspect he will leave children’s coaching eventually, because the children don’t want to do it, because they can’t. He compares these children with his peers and just shakes his head. Its all the parents’ fault.

To me, the answer is a no-brainer. It’s very simple. Get rid of television. Being there for them is silly. Once seen, something is etched in the mind. I can still picture the Lone Ranger, and I was only five. You cannot erase the memories etched into the brain. Talking the children “through” it is pointless.

If the only means of seeing things you want children to see, is to hire DVD’s and the parents watch them first, so they know the story and what’s coming, then that’s about the only compromise that is sanity building, because you can either toss the DVD, or discuss it in detail with the children first.

Society managed without any “box” of any sort, once, and made their own entertainment. Just perhaps children might have a lot more self confidence and relate to each other better that way, if they learned how to entertain themselves as families and children. The problem is would their parents even have half a clue as to how to entertain themselves in the first place? And if parent have no clue, then how will the children absorb what should be a normal skill of life.

Television has so much to answer for in the breakdown of huge sections of society today. “Managing” it is not the answer. If everyone got rid of their television and started thinking for themselves and getting back out into the community, and re-learning how to live, there would be huge spin-offs, like reduction in crime, increase in community initiatives, like gardens, games parks,… life could be so different if people weren’t mainlining of “television methamphetamine”

Sorry for the rant, but its something I feel that strongly about, and have since the age of five.



1 comment:

WinterWheat said...

Hi Joanne, Kris here. That's a very moving letter. My view, with an almost-2-year-old, is that if my grandparents managed to raise my parents (born in 1941) without TV, I can do it too. I realize of course that my child is going to see TV in bits and pieces here (Greg likes his weekend sports) and in bigger bits and pieces at friends' houses, so I'm not being obsessive about it. I just don't want her incorporating "TV watching" into her schema of the daily, expected activities in the life of a family.