Television as a Force for Good

by : Naresh Belliyappa

There has been much debate about the ill effects on children of television viewing. But there are several positive aspects too and we should keep these in mind when television bashing gets going in full swing. With the proper guidance, T.V. makes a wonderful teaching tool and the earlier a child is introduced to the concept of using the TV as source of information, the better he/she will learn to avoid the less redeeming programs that are also available for viewing.

Enlarging Horizons

One of the benefits of having a vast network of channels is the number of programs available covering a range of topics. From the environment to music, animal welfare to fashion, science, art, religion, sport, politics - everything is discussed, debated and commented upon. The listeners are introduced to ideas and beliefs that may be alien to them or that they disagree with. What a wonderful opportunity for expanding a child's interests and intellectual curiosity.

Awareness of World Events

At no time in history has there been such easy access to world news, yet paradoxically children of all ages are amazingly unaware of what is happening around the world. Even when they have heard of an event, most have just the vaguest notion of who the actors are, the causes and the consequences of the occurrence and how or whether it would affect them. The future will be shaped by today's youth and it does not bode well if they profess an indifference to what goes on around them. With competing channels slanting the news according to their preference, children of today should be taught to listen, question and form their own opinions so that they do not become passive participants in their own destiny.

Sensitization to Evils of Violence

T.V. has often been blamed for children indulging in violent acts. Surely a truer explanation is that no one ever put the violent scenes seen on the small screen into their proper perspective for the child. Watching scenes of war or assault with a caring and concerned adult helps the child understand its terrible futility, how little is gained by resorting to force and the inevitable aftermath of such acts.

Enhances Sense of Empathy

Everyday brings its own tales of woe from different parts of the world. Does this make a child "tune out" due to overload or does it sharpen his sense of empathy, make him more altruistic, make him determined to do something positive with his life? Children are generally idealistic and have a strong sense of right and wrong. It is the manner in which these traits are developed or not that determines the type of adult the child will grow into.

Enables Parent to Talk about Sensitive Subjects

Sometimes it is difficult for parents to broach a topic with their child either because they feel embarrassed or are not sure of the response on direct questioning. It may be about drug use, sexual issues, adoption, problems at school, choice of friends - anything that involves the child and his/her life. Sometimes the older the child is, the greater the hesitancy seems to be. Watching a program on T.V. together, concerning a subject the parent wishes to talk about, opens the door to discussion in general terms which in turn can lead to the specific.

Technology plays a larger part in our lives than we ever imagined and it is only right that instead of wasting the opportunity or turning our backs on it, we harness its great potential to mould and develop our children's attitudes and responses to the world we all inhabit.