TV rots the senses in the head!
It kills the imagination dead!
It clogs and clutters up the mind!
It makes a child so dull and blind.
He can no longer understand a fantasy,
His brain becomes as soft as cheese!
His powers of thinking rust and freeze!
An excerpt from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory,
By Roald Dahl, 1964
When George Orwells epic novel 1984 was published in 1949 it opened the publics imagination to a future world where privacy and freedom had no meaning. The year 1984 has come and gone and we generally believe ourselves to still live in The Land of the Free; however, as we now move into the 21st Century changes brought about by recent advances in technology have changed the way we live forever. Although these new developments have seamed to make everyday life more enjoyable, we must be cautious of the dangers that lie behind them for it is very possible that we are in fact living in a world more similar to that of 1984 than we would like to imagine.
In 1949 when Orwells novel was published, television was a relatively new invention. Fewer than 10% of the United States households had a television set in them and at this time programming was limited to mainly news-oriented shows. Many people believed that television would never surpass radio as the chief means of mass communication; they could not have been more incorrect.
Presently 98% of the households in the United States have one or more televisions in them. What once was regarded as a luxury item has become a staple appliance of the American household. Gone are the days of the three channel black and white programming of the early years; that has been replaced by digital flat screen televisions connected to satellite programming capable of receiving thousands of channels from around the world. Although televisions and television programming today differ from those of the telescreens in Orwells 1984, we are beginning to realize that the effects of television viewing may be the same as those of the telescreens.
The telescreens in 1984 served two purposes, surveillance and mind control. Unlike the televisions of our present day, the telescreens in 1984 also served as a device constantly monitoring the citizens actions by means of an integrated camera and microphone in addition to broadcasting continuous pro Party propaganda. Setting aside the surveillance aspect of the telescreens, it is easy to see to a striking similarity between the televisions in our society and the fictional telescreens Orwell created in 1984.
Numerous studies have concluded that the content and amount of television programming watched by individuals especially by children – has a direct result on the behavior of that individual. The behavior affected by television viewing can be anything from a desire for a certain food or material good to violent distemper (Zuckerman 1985.) Recently, more and more woman have given up their traditional role of raising their children opting instead to work during the day and leave their children to take care of themselves. Unfortunately, many children find that spending countless hours in front of the television to be a worthwhile way to entertain themselves. Most parents tell their children never to talk to strangers, but what they fail to realize is that every day their children are subject to the messages and ideas of strangers on the television. In fact, a study concluded that an average American by the age of 18 has spent more time watching television than they have spent in school; this study also went on the state that children spend more time watching television than any other activity besides sleeping. This may explain why an additional study revealed that if a child was told something by his or her parents and then viewed on television something that contradicted what the parents had said, four times out of five the child opted to believe the television over his or her parents. This may not seam like a problem if one was looking at it in terms of factual information, but when it comes to moral values we may begin to understand why our society is in the state that it is. A study conducted by MediaScope