Since its inception, television has always been a part of American culture. It captures the attention of millions of people for several hours in a single day with its visually appealing, fast-paced, and highly entertaining style. According to research, televisions are capable of competing with other modes of human interaction, such as family, friends, education, and church, in terms of assisting people in forming ideas and developing values about what goes on around them. Television has an influence on viewers’ perceptions and opinions about themselves as well as other people from various cultural, social, and ethnic backgrounds. It could be argued that it is the link between people in their homes, offices, or cars to the outside world. It has also provided a platform for advertisers and marketers to promote and sell their products to the masses who watch televisions on a daily basis. With this level of influence in people’s lives, studies televisions have provided evidence that it could have both positive and negative impact on its viewers. This paper will focus on how the technological advancements that have improved TVS over the years have impact people’s lives.
Position of TV compared to other media
Ever since televisions where invented, the technology behind it has significantly progressed. What was initially viewed on small black and white boxes has become one of the most demanded products in the contemporary market. Modern technology has transformed these devices into sleek, large, flat-screen digital and even smart devices which can support a wide range of entertainment demands. Apart from this, viewers can now watch their favorite television shows and movies not only on their TVs but also on their smartphones and tablets (Page, 2015). In conjunction with these technological advancements, the manner in which people view television has been the subject to change and development. The day when viewers had to make sure they were home by the time their favorite shows are gone. Now technological advancement has made it possible for them to record these programs via recording devices and on-demand services which enable them to watch whatever they want at their convenience and comfort (Page, 2015).
In comparison to other forms of media, television remains to be the most dominant form toping magazines, the internet radio, and newspapers on a number of issues as indicated by research. According to the Television Bureau of Advertising’s survey in 2010, individuals in America spent significantly more time on TV than any other mediums and the platform remains to be the one with the highest reach. The study indicated that television reaches approximately ninety percent of adults in the country and has an eighty percent reach capacity among individuals of all ages, education, and income levels. Additionally, the study revealed that apart from having the highest reach, the media platform records the highest usage time each day than any other media with an average of almost five hours among adults and even more elevated time levels among persons of all ages, education and income breaks. The broadcasting platform is considered the primary source of news including weather, sports and traffic updates by most adults in the country. Even with the advancement of the internet a significantly high amount of people online television stations platforms as their primary and trusted source of current affairs and news unlike other forms of media such as the social platforms and online newspapers (Staff, 2010).
As such, it is evident that television has over the years gained the trust and loyalty among a significant portion of the population. With this level of outreach, the platform has provided an opportunity to many investors in the contemporary entertainment, journalism, and advertisement industry. This has also granted it the potential of influencing the lives of millions of individuals on a daily basis. As mentioned earlier, TV especially what is aired through them can have both negative and positive impacts on people’s lives. To understand this, it is important to categorize the various social and economic sectors that the media form influences.
Studies in this field have shown televisions have the potential of a powerful learning mechanism. Take the example of how children can be educated in matters concerning life by just watching TV programs. Programs such as the Sesame Street can teach toddlers valuable lessons concerning cooperation, racial harmony, simple arithmetic, kindness, and basic language skills via an educational broadcasting format. As a matter of fact, some academic institution has considered the use of television aired tutorials rather than having a teacher physically present in classroom settings. Other programs have also been known to encourage visits to libraries, zoos, museums, bookstores and different recreational setups while educational videos can be used as autoreactive prosocial teaching mechanisms. Likewise, it could also be argued that through its informative nature, televisions can influence the learning process by informing young minds on how the various sectors of not only the contemporary but also the historical world operate (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003).
However, like other forms of media, televisions have also been identified as a barrier to academic development. Research shows that, spending more time watching TV limits the time which students could be reading or doing their school work. A recent controlled study indicated that even as little as one to two hours of unsupervised television watching among school-aged children have unignorably adverse impact academic performance. As such, although it could utilize in the educational sector, television could only be beneficial if the viewers maintain healthy watching habits. According to the Canadian Pediatric Society (2003), high school programs that encourage media awareness among students have been proven to be valuable. The exposure to such platforms offers them a greater understanding of the social environment around them. However, such exposure should be subject to parental rating and causation although currently there is not universally accepted rating system.
Many studies in the field of mass media argue that its development over the years displaced the traditional forms of acquiring information including neighborhood gossips and family storytelling. This was also influenced by the fact that many people in urban settings found it challenging to incorporate traditional forms of communication in their regimented livelihoods. By the time television was introduced as a form of mass media in the 50s and 60s, mass media had already taken roots as a vital source of both entertainment and information. During the madden decade of its introduction, the platform managed to displace other forms of media including newspapers, books, magazines, and radio. The competing forms were left with no choice but relying on their recognition and popularity to survive as television took away their advertisement avenues and audiences. Alternatively, the competitors were forced to eliminate services and content that directly competed with TV (Narasimahamurthy, 2014).
Today, television is the primary source of news and current affairs information. It advancements over the years have improved the manner in which news is delivered to its audience. There has been a significant increase in interactive and expert interviews which does not only present the information but also analyzes and breaks down this information to a level which the average citizen can understand. Studies have shown that people are more likely to view news aired on television stations as more credible than other sources of the same information such as the internet, social media, and newspapers. As such, television is in a position to influence the political and current affairs attitudes of millions of citizens each day. They can shape how people react to day to day happenings and can also affect international policies depending on how they highlight a situation.
Apart from being a primary source of information, televisions are also a major source of entertainment in the contemporary society. Over the years, the content aired on this platform has considerably improved, and now persons of all ages, race, or income levels can find tailor-made entertainment programs on television. In fact, experts argue that a high percentage of people, especially children, and the youth, perceive TV more of a source of entertainment rather than information. The platform has surpassed traditional source of entertainment such as books, radio, and family outings to become a leading entertainer.
The advancement of the television media over the years has precipitated the formation of a mutually beneficial collaboration between the media and health professionals. Public health messages can now be easily accessible since through television can traverse obstacles such as geographical proximities and language barriers to reach hard-to-access audiences. In addition to this, favorite television shows and movies have dramatized matters concerning health hence attracting the interest of those who would otherwise ignore such information if presented inform of expert advertisements. These shows, apart from being a source of entertainment, provides valuable health education especially among children and the youths.
However, studies have also shown that television contributes to adverse health outcomes in the community. The Canadian Pediatric Society (2003), argues that the devices take away valuable time for physical exercise since people sent most of their free time watching television rather than being engaged in healthy outdoor activities. The media platform is a significant contributor to obesity not only by taking away the time that could be used for physical events but also through the promotion of poor dietary practices. Research indicates that the fat content promoted on this platform exceed the average diet and nutritional recommendations with many of such advertisements promoting food with calories like candy, fast foods, and presweetened cereals. What is more concerning is that commercials that promote healthy eating and diets only take four percent of the total dietary advertisement on TV (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003). These harmful contents can also contribute to other adverse health outcomes such as high cholesterol levels and heart diseases.
Consumer behavior
A commonly held notion among marketers denotes that product placement largely influences consumer behavior. In its fundamental form, product placement involves marketers, advertisers, and organizations all engaging in content production to improve sales and expand the market base. The interest in this field could be traced back to the nineteenth century when brands and products were included in novels, and the excitement has significantly developed with the passage of time. The advent of television and other media platforms inflated this interest, and over the years they have become an essential tool in marketing and advertisement.
Television was essentially invented as a mechanism of sharing information and entertainment. In normal circumstances, all members of the family watch it. However, studies have shown that the most affected segment of the population is the youth and children (Ismail, 2013). The importance of the young members of the society as consumers in the contemporary world cannot be ignored with research showing that this market is exceptional based on the fact that they influence three marketplaces. First, the young generation is considered as primary consumers on their own. Secondly, they are market influencers in that they can affect the buying habits of others including their parents and peers. Lastly, they are considered to be the future markets who will become consumers of all products and services when they are older (Ismail, 2013).
With this level of influence, television shows and programs have been known significantly invest and use celebrities and other influential members of the society to influence the consumer attitudes among the young generation. For example, statistics indicate that an average child views approximate twenty thousand adverts every year (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003). However, this is not to say that television advertising does not capture the adult population. Some alcohol-based organizations have been known to spend almost ten percent of their advertisement budget warning against the excessive use of alcohol and driving while drunk. Similarly, major brands in health, beauty, and manufacturing industries concentrate a significant portion of their marketing finances on television advertisements. Financial institutions are also left behind with substantial players in the sector seeing this as the best platform to reach a considerable portion of their market base. Such investments only prove the level of trust awarded to televisions as a source of information in the current market conditions. Ultimately, it can be argued that when a viewer sees a favorite television character or program being associated with a certain brand or service provider, they are most likely to purchase that product or service.
The current position of television in the modern society has resulted in it being considered one of the latest series of advancements in communication technologies that have contributed to the displacement of traditional forms of free time activities including those that were associated with face to face communication. With the advancement of both the technology and the content aired, television gradually grew to become one of the major cultural and social influencer. However, most of this influence, as depicted many researchers, has been negative. Televisions have been pictured to erode not only cultural values but also disrupt the traditional forms of communication and amusements such as reading and other outdoor activities. According to Narasimahamurthy (2014), it is also a significant contributor to the modern day colonization. Television, especially in third world nations, has been able to colonize the cultures and living habits of its audiences. The genesis of this can be traced back to when transnational channels and television programs were introduced in the local media. Most of the programs and movies show western cultures, their living patterns, and styles which have a considerable impact on people.
Most of the audiences in these countries try to alter their style of living and their attitudes towards life. It can be argued that to some extent television has made these individuals reason broadly while keeping their traditional values in mind. An excellent example of this is how Indian women altered their conventional roles as family caregivers to take up positions that were considered manly. During the pre-colonial period as well as several years after independence, women in India were not regarded as eligible for office work. The Indian culture dictated that they should be confined within the four walls of the house, cook for their family, and take the primary intuitive in raising the children (Narasimahamurthy, 2014). However, through exposure to western cultures, the society has gradually accepted new social standings that allow women do much more than just staying at home. Similarly, this exposure has led to the adoption of the western style of dressing and perception of beauty.
Violence and Sexuality
According to Slotsve, Carmen, Sarver, and Villareal-Watkins (2008), violence has become a major part of the modern day media be it television, video games, music and film industries. It has resulted in increased concerns about the potential harmful effects on the young generation and studies has produced irrefutable evidence that indeed exposure to violent acts can have adverse effects on their development. Over a thousand studies have confirmed that enhanced exposure to such programs increases the likelihood of young individuals developing aggressive behavior especially among the boys (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003). The number of violent acts aired on television and the easy accessibility of such programs among children, it is not a surprise that the platform takes much of the blame. Studies indicate that an average child is exposed to approximately twelve thousand violent behaviors on television every year. This includes scenes of murder, cruelty, and rape. These children are exposed to violence from the moment they are born and have the potential of watching television for the rest of the lives while having regular interactions with other viewers.
According to a report by the Federal Trade Commission, parents have long suspected that most of the advertisements on violent television shows, movies, music, and video games are intentionally targeted to the young generation. Television makes them both passive and active recipients of extreme, and sexual images every day. Studies on how this affects children indicate that by the time the average American student leaves college, he or she would have been exposed to over thirteen thousand deaths on TV. Another study showed that by the time a child graduates from elementary level of education, he or she would have viewed approximately eight thousand murders and not less than a hundred thousand acts of violence through this platform. The effects of this are extensive (Slotsve et al. 2008). Although not all cases result in aggressive behaviors, the possible psychological and mental effects of extensive life-long exposure to such scenes cannot be ignored.
The same as violence, sexual content in television have increased significantly with the advancement of both the technology and content aired on television. As mentioned earlier, children and youths are the highest consumers of television content. This includes movies, TV shows, programs, and music videos. Research shows that television has over the years developed to become one of the leading sex educators in the contemporary society. From 1976 to 1996, players in this field argue that there has been an approximately two hundred and seventy percent increase in the level of sexual interaction during family hours. The studies also show that television shows depict these acts as usual and risk-free and send these messages on regular basis (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003). On average, sex between unmarried partners is aired twenty-four times more than between married partners and with the young generation considering this form of media as the primary source of sex education second only to school-based sex education, there is a high likelihood that their attitudes, beliefs, beliefs, and values on the subject will be influenced. It is also believed that such exposure can affect sexual responsibility not only on youths but also adults by promoting the use of birth control measures like condoms and pregnancy pills (Canadian Pediatric Society, 2003).
In conclusion, ever since its invention, television has significantly improved both regarding technological advancement and content aired. This has precipitated its rise in prominence and prevalence in the contemporary society. With a high level of reach and trust, televisions have become a significant influencer in the manner in which people live. As discussed, the media platform can influence culture, education, health, sexuality, violence, and the level of entertainment and information circulating in the modern day society.
Canadian Pediatric Society. (2003). Impact of media use on children and youth. Pediatrics & Child Health, 8(5), 301–306.
Ismail, Z. (2013). Television viewing and consumer behavior: The effect of personality traits and demographic variables on children’s consumer socialization. Journal of Sociological Research, 4(2), 20-27.
Narasimhamurthy, N. (2014). Television as a dominant source of infotainment among youths in Bangalore City. IOSR Journal of Research & Method in Education, 4(5), 21-28.
Page, C. (2015). How technology is changing the way we watch television. Retrieved from
Slotsve, T., Carmen, A., Sarver, M., & Villareal-Watkins, R. T. (2008). Television violence and aggression: A retrospective study. Southwest Journal of Criminal Justice, 5(1), 22-49.
Staff. (2010). TVB; TV remains most influential medium. Retrieved from

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