The Many Benefits of Television Cannot be Ignored
The benefits of television are many, although not everyone will agree with that statement. Many years ago, when television was still more or less in its infancy, it was described as being a ‘vast wasteland.’ There was some truth to that statement back then, and there is still some truth to it today.
It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to put together list upon list of what is good or what is bad about television. It’s here to stay. People don’t have to watch it if they don’t want to. What is junk TV to one person is pure entertainment to another. Programs that one person finds informative and enlightening can often be quite boring for others to watch.
It’s In the Eye of the Beholder
It could be argued that no matter what programs are your favorites, watching more of them is not necessarily better. It can be too easy to become ‘glued’ to the tube when there might be more useful things to do. We can tell those who watch TV much of the day or from dinnertime to bedtime every evening that they should ‘get a life,’ but their response is apt to be they already have a very good one, thank you. One of the more powerful arguments for the benefits of television is that it provides something to do and a means of entertainment for those who actually have little to do except perhaps read a book.
Watching television can be habit forming, but not all habits are bad ones. There are those who watch little if any TV during the week, but follow collegiate football every Saturday or watch NFL games every Sunday. Others watch only ice hockey, basketball, golf or NASCAR. There are those who lead very busy lives, but will always set aside time to watch ‘The Amazing Race’ or ‘Survivor.’ Years ago people watched ‘I Love Lucy’ shows over and over, simply because they enjoyed watching them. Today, people watch reruns of ‘Seinfeld’, ‘The Simpsons’, or ‘Family Guy.’ People can argue all night as to whether watching these shows are one of the benefits of television or a waste of time. The answer is usually in the eye of the beholder.
The Weather Channel is a good example of TV programming that can on the one hand be extremely helpful and on the other hand become an obsession. There are those who will watch the weather all day long. That’s really no different than having a radio playing in the background, which no one considers to be a waste of time. Listening to the Weather Channel is one thing. Watching it as if it were a series of movies would probably not be considered to be beneficial.
Consider the foreign film. If you’re trying to learn German and you have an occasional opportunity to watch a movie in German, with or without subtitles, that movie can be a good help in learning the language. Looking at it from the opposite direction, someone coming to the States and who speaks little or no English can learn a great deal, especially conversational English, by watching television for an hour or so every day. That person would probably get a greater benefit from watching a few episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ than from watching a series of Shakespeare plays.
A Definite Improvement Over the Pinball Machine
Television can be a great babysitter. Those who worry that young children might watch too much of it have a valid point. How much a toddler or preschooler is allowed to watch, and what he or she is allowed to watch is really something the parents should have control over. Teenagers watch too much TV at times, or they spend too much time playing video games. A couple of generations ago teenagers wasted a lot of time playing pinball machines, and a few of them have become world leaders.
Learning About the World Around You
While watching the nightly news can sometimes make a person feel a bit depressed and watching political forums can make a person downright angry, TV is for the most part a means of relaxation, and it can be a great stress reliever. It’s easy to become absorbed in a good drama, and it’s good for you to enjoy a few laughs when watching a comedy. Watching a fascinating documentary often leaves you with a good feeling, even though you might not understand quite why that is the case. Perhaps it’s because you’ve learned something new. That’s almost always a good feeling, whether you’ll be putting that new knowledge to use or not.
TV also allows a person to travel, without having to put up with the hassle of flying. There’s something to be said about being an armchair explorer. Before television, we had to rely on the printed word, the spoken word, and still photographs to see many parts of the world and the people who lived there. Today, a National Geographic special can provide us with more information and entertainment than was possible to receive during an entire semester of United States or world history. An even greater benefit for those who place a great value in continuing education is the fact that many universities provide courses through their own TV channels and programs.