English 1301

The television set has been one of those keystone technologies that has played a major role in shaping modern society. While there are many other technologies that have done the same thing, such as personal computers or the internet, television has been around the longest, and therefore, had more of a chance to be an influence. As such, many issues have emerged to cause debate related to television viewing. The common thread among these issues revolves around television’s influence, subdivided into these particular categories: violence, personal values, and the regulation of television.

First of all, several perspectives on television violence have emerged. The first, and seemingly most often heard, is that violence on television will influence others to be more violent as well. There have been many studies that show a strong correlation between violence in entertainment and violent crimes. There is a statistical significance between the timing of when mass murder entered Hollywood in a significant amount and a rising of incidents where children and adolescents commit mass murders. (Easterbrook, 1) “Combining television and movies, the typical American boy or girl, studies find, will observe a stunning 40,000 dramatizations of killing by age 18.” (Easterbrook, 2) While many follow this first perspective, others believe that there is an exaggeration of how much violence has been shown. This viewpoint’s strongest argument is that the statistics supporting a shocking amount of television violence is actually over inflated. Supporters of this argument claim that the definition of violence used in studies is too broad. “…a brief shot of a dead body counts as violence. So does a credible threat of physical force. This means that a threat to punch someone in the nose could count as much as an on-screen decapitation in determining violent content” (Leo 2). The other side of the issue is that the violence displayed on television will not have a strong effect on determining the violent behavior of others. “…studies show that upbringing is more determinant of violent behavior than any other factor.” (Easterbrook, 2) Those in favor of this argument claim that the parenting and personal experiences play more of a role in violence that anything else and that television cannot cause violence in society.

The second main issue in television’s influence on society is what hold it has over personal values. Some studies have shown that the advertising campaigns of alcohol companies have been influencing minors to purchase and/or consume these beverages. This viewpoint derives from the fact that the television commercials for beer have put alcohol consumption in a very positive light. (Alcohol Policies Project, 1-3) Another area of discussion on this topic has been over the subject of sex. The television has led to the rise of many entertainments, including pornography. Since sex is sometimes a form of entertainment, and since television is also a source for entertainment, it is inevitable that the two would merge. Although it is considered a form of adult entertainment where people have the right to choose there are many who feel that pornography harms society. Pornography is being claimed to de-sensitize people to human sexuality. (Bush, 1-5) The reduction of societal issues into entertainment is the other issue regarding this subject. Talk shows are a big hit on television, and the source of these shows is the problems and issues of people, which are common in society. By melding these issues with entertainment it has been said to decrease the reality of the problems and degrade them while creating stereotypes. (Nelson, 1-4)

Although these issues arise, people still try to maintain a sense of control, different as it may be. Due, in part, to the main controversies in television the subject of regulation and control over them has become a prevalent argument. Many feel that the government should step in and play a larger hand at regulating television. The supporters of this argument feel that voluntary self-regulation is not adequate to protect different parts of society from dangers and influences of television (Dykstra 1-3). Others feel that self-regulation works perfectly by offering individuals control over what they see and what they allow their children to see. These regulations would be through rating systems and warnings that allow people to choose what they see at their