When television first came to India on September 15, 1959 was named as “Doordarshan”(DD) the national television network of India, nobody had ever thought that within a span of less than 50 years, it would cover more than 70 million homes giving a viewing population of 480 million. Television constitutes an important medium widely used to disseminate information to its viewers. It has the unique feature of combining audio and visual technology and serves multiple purposes of entertainment, information, and education. There is no doubt that television has a great influence on children from a very early age itself and it does have an effect on children’s cognitive and social development.(1) Television has the potential to generate both positive and negative effects. An individual child’s developmental level is a critical factor in determining whether the medium will have positive or negative effects.(2) Excessive TV viewing contributes to an increased incidence of obesity and has deleterious effects on learning and academic performance.(3) Time spent with various media may displace other more active and meaningful pursuits such as reading, exercising, or playing with friends. Childhood and adolescence is a time of opportunity and risk. As children and adolescents are the most vulnerable section of the society, the study was carried out on this vulnerable section of the society in an urban slum. The results of the study are interesting. It is observed that [Figure 1] multiple media are accessed by the children and television is the most preferred medium (96.31%). The mean age at which children began watching television was 2.96 years.
Different media accessed by the children
Mean hours for which children watched television was 3.56 h.Time spent on television by girls was more (mean=3.73 h) as compared to boys (mean=3.47 h). The reason for this might be non-enrollment of these slum girls in school [Table 1].
Relationship of gender and the amount of time spent on television
Jordan et al. in their study observed that most of the children reported spending approximately 3 h per day watching television.(4) Burdette et al. in their study found that children watched TV for a mean of 2.2±1.2 h per day.(5) It was observed that 12.26% of the children and adolescents had television in their rooms. Mean hours for which children watched television was more (3.81 h) in children who had television in their rooms as compared to children who did not have television in their rooms (3.51 h). From the research statistics, it can be strongly recommended that parents can help their children make better use of television by scheduling media/television times, limiting children’s total screen time, and helping children and adolescents choose the program appropriate for their age and interests.
1. Nirmala A. The impact of television. Kerala Calling. 2004;25:18–9.
2. Villani S. Impact of media on children and adolescents: A 10-year review of the research. J Am Acad Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2001;40:392–401.[PubMed]
3. Jones AF. The impact of media on children and youth. Paediatr Child Health. 2003;8:301–6.[PMC free article][PubMed]
4. Jordan AB, Hersey JC, McDivitt JA, Heitzler CD. Reducing children’s television-viewing time: A qualitative study of parents and their children. Pediatrics. 2006;118:1303–10.[PubMed]
5. Burdette HL, Whitaker RC, Kahn RS, Harvey-Berino J. Association of maternal obesity and depressive symptoms with television-viewing time in low-income preschool children. Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2003;157:894–9.[PubMed]
Television is a form of media that has great ability to influence and brainwash the viewing public. The talking box in one’s living room has assumed the overpowering role it plays today as a result of the weakness of society. This may seem like a negative view but a society’s strength is based on the relationships between people and when so much time is spent away from others and together with the media, the actions that take place are often times a reflection of what television presents. In President Clinton’s speech, he brings forth this very point and he acknowledges the family’s increasing weakness and calls on all people to bring back the values of the past and stop the media from playing such a huge role in our community. The overwhelming influence of the media is a constant threat to the maintenance of traditional family values and to the protection of our children’s future. Nevertheless, television cannot be changed for it is too big and powerful but compromises can be made that can strengthen society and help keep certain values protected.
Over the past decades, people have less and less time in their hands due to careers, divorces and the constant struggle for success. This unfortunately, is resulting in parents spending less time with their children, which is an important responsibility that no one or nothing can replace. President Clinton said, “television… may be the third parent, but it can’t be the first or the second”(Clinton, p.173). The focus on “parental responsibility”(Clinton, p.174) is what is important and parents must ensure that their children are raised in a controlled and safe environment. The media has “more access… to children”(Clinton, p.172) then ever before, and it can develop certain bad habits, patterns and subconscious actions if the individual is too weak to fight its affect. Therefore, parents must spend more time with their children, otherwise, the old values will slowly slip away and new ones, established by television, will take their place for good.
Television has incredible power. In a society where money signifies success and influence, television has taken its place among the most prosperous of businesses. Television cannot be attacked because it can and has successfully stood up to all sorts of challenges. The solution of changing its role in society lies within man himself. Television, despite many negative aspects, has much to offer. It is a great tool for learning, communication and for information. Attacking television may deprive us of such benefits therefore this trend must be approached with “more conversation and less combat”(Clinton, p.173). Instead of criticizing, we should look for alternatives that, in the long run, will benefit society. Just as televisions’ bad influence has settled in slowly in our community, it can slowly be filtered out with time, patience and most importantly with everyone’s cooperation.
We, society, are responsible for making television a threat to traditional values and future generations. It is our duty, as a population, to work together to steer away from the tube to the values that will strengthen society. Step by step, this can be done and the future will get brighter in the long run.
Filed Under: Science & Technology