Does television have a malign influence on society?

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Does television have a malign influence on society?

Collins Dictionary (2009) defines television as; “the system or process of producing a moving image with accompanying sound on a distant screen.” This essay will discuss the very debateable subject of television.  It will explore; if society as a whole is influenced by viewing, what effect viewing has on individuals and if television is linked to health concerns.  The beneficial aspects of television will also be discussed and if this medium was to be expunged, would this possibly have a detrimental effect?  As with an essay of this type, it will be as balanced as possible, with statistics, research and public opinion to achieve a balanced conclusion.

A common misconception is that television causes violence and is a contributor to crime.  One such case is that of James Bulger, in which Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, both aged 10 proceeded to abduct a toddler from a busy shopping precinct.  After this abduction they repeatedly beat the toddler and left him for dead.   Speculation was widely conveyed to the causal effect of violence portrayed on the big screen, with films as “child’s play” being at the forefront, leading to a change in censorship laws in 1994.  Whereas, Japan; famous for television movies that show extreme violence, crime rates are low, much lower than that of the westernised world (The British Journal of Criminology 1999).  Another point to consider is that television is responsible for the increase in Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBO’s).  The research undertaken has concluded a behavioural link in the USA and western countries over several years.  In recent studies many criminals have confessed to influence of actions portrayed on television (Gunter, 2008).  However, there is no definitive link between television and ASBO’s this is usually determined by other social factors, such as; family, surroundings, personality traits, peers and other factors.

The next exploration into television viewing is that of advertisements.  Advertising in the UK has risen by thirty percent with the introduction of more channels in the last ten years ( 2009).  Television is being abused for commercial purposes, in which audiences are being sold to.  The aim of this is to promote the product as a solution to a problem or the fulfilment of a desire that can only be achieved by purchasing this item (Mander, 1978).  It is agued that television affects the human mind by, limiting the possibilities of conscious choice and promotes a consumer society.  On the other hand, television is not the only tool for advertisement.  As a nation there is a constant “spoon-feeding” of products to stimulate the desire to purchase.  These include advertisement boards, the radio, newspapers and mail, this constant bombardment has a causal effect, of a “need” to being the first to have the latest deals and products.  However, television allows the consumer choices and information to a variety of products which gives a better understanding in their purchases.  Television in the UK has shown that it can be financed without the influx of advertising fees.  The BBC is paid for from licensing fees and many commercial broadcasters are now increasingly promoting pay-per view options (Inside TV, 2009).  Many arguments conform to the fact of being “forced” to pay for the license fee, whereas the “pay-per view” option is less obtrusive allowing people to make up their own minds.

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The exploration of television brings to light that of moral behaviour.  A large proportion of television audiences consist of teenagers, these are extremely susceptible to what is seen as their moral values are currently in development (Banerjee, 2005).  Humans in the developmental process learn by imitation, normally in the form of a visual aid by mimicking actions by others.  One such study was made by Albert Bandura by use of the Bobo doll in 1961.  This study was compiled of children who were shown acts of verbal and physical violence inflicted on an inflatable Bobo doll.  Although, the results ...

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