The social effect refers to the impact that television has had on society since the beginning. There is a belief that these impacts might have been largely dramatic. However, there is much dispute as to what these impacts could be, the depth of its seriousness and its ramification, and all these will be explored in this article.
Before the internet, television was the only means of information for most people. It opened their minds to new learning possibilities that no one had ever ascertained.
- Gender differences. Television programs were able to provide a glimpse into the doings of men and women. It was made possible through men being able to tap into their feminine sides by showing their emotional nature and women being given equal opportunity to broadcast theirs. Since television adopted too many stereotypes by showing the lives of men only, it opened discussion for the feminist movement and arguments about the roles of women in society in a greater depth. As television became a bigger and more significant part of everyday life, the feminist movement was able to challenge the network’s portrayal of women in a certain light. As a result of this, gradually the most homebound women were shown to experience parts of culture that were primarily male-dominated such as sports, medicine, law, politics, war, business, etc.
- Socialization of Children. The show “Sesame Street” was mainly developed to jumpstart the early literacy, numeracy, and emotional skills of preschool children. Detail analysis showed that 80% of the content being broadcasted on the show was dedicated to these goals while the rest was meant to entertain. As a result, published research showed that watching Sesame Street had a positive impact on children’s development in such a way that they gained higher IQ points and showed stronger evidence of learning. Prekindergarten children scored higher on the social competence index, which shows the ability to be able to have meaningful engagement with others.
- Politics. Since the inception of television, politics have also substantially changed. It has helped politicians reach out to people on a much more personal level at a larger scale, resulting in lessening the gap of communication between citizens and government and increase in transparency.
The negative social impact of having a television exists as well. As TV became an increasingly dominant form of mass communication, it is being referred to as the ‘boob tube’ or a mindless occupation and time filler. Spending too much time on the TV has been accused as something that has been testing the limits of propriety in any society. On-air vulgarity becoming more and more common is frowned upon now. TV is meant to create a comfortable familiarity and acceptance of languages and behavior. However, TV is only evoking some imitative responses from competing media who are struggling to keep pace with other media houses to retain viewership.
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The investigators and prosecutors from the justice system have also posted complaints about the social influence of having a TV. They claim that due to the popularity of CSI-related content, juries expect to be dazzled and will only appoint criminal charges if they are presented with impressive physical evidence. They also claim that the juries demand it even when motive, testimony, and lack of alibi are all presented. As a result, this is making their job even more challenging.
Not to mention that the psychological impact is also significant on watching TV. There is a portion in the brain called basal ganglia which becomes very active when someone plays video games or watches TV. As a result, the body releases chemicals called dopamine. The more dopamine is released, the less neurotransmitter becomes active. This can lead to dopamine imbalance in persons with ADHD and other mental illnesses. It is recommended for them to limit spending time on TV.
How to choose good TV programs
TV watchers should consider the following recommendations for watching good television programs to have an increased effect on themselves and those around them:
- Does the program encourage to ask questions, use imagination, and be active or creative? It doesn’t have to be a passive activity. One should be prompted to ask questions, kindle their curiosity and be able to learn activities to pursue.
- TV watchers believe that TV reflects the real world. To not be able to see people like themselves based on race, ethnicity or physical ability can lead to diminishing their self-worth and distorted view of the world. TV watchers should watch programs that show how different people are portrayed.
- If there are young children or the sensitive person people watching TV, what sort of emotional effect will the program have on them? Some may consider dramas and conflicts and TV characters being in jeopardy as something entertaining, but it can be distressing for small and sensitive children. It is advised not to let them watch such programs.
The evidence of social effect just goes to show that TV programs being shown, whether biased or sensationalized may discourage and have a negative impact on TV watchers. Or they can be taken as a learning opportunity by some. Thus, one should be cautious about what they watch on TV. Besides all these social impacts that television has on one’s life, the internet also plays an important role in impacting one’s social and psychological being.
The internet is much more decriminalized and darker than TV programs but for young children and others, it can also be restricted. All one needs to do is to activate parental control and limit access. For instance, with Xfinity Internet, one can find an option for restricting access to certain websites or platforms. Other than that, adults are mainly capable of recognizing content being viewed as inappropriate and hence, are advised to view such content at their own risks.