Television and Society
In Marie Winn’s Essay “Television: The Plug In Drug,” she states, “Television’s contribution to family life has been an equivocal one.” Winn focuses on the issue of television’s influence in the lives of American families. Her emphasis is on the medium’s influence on children. Although she makes a strong case for the negative influence of television, she fails to consider all of the benefits television has brought to American families. On its own, the television is neither bad nor good. It offers many benefits: awareness, entertainment, and relaxation. Depending how the television is used, it can have a positive, or negative, effect on the family.
In many cases it can lead to less quality time for the family, a minimized educational value for children, and the promotion of sex and violence, which has become more prominent in today’s programs. The television has greatly impacted and altered: former means of communication within the family, leisure time activities, and child development.
When television first arrived in the mid-fifties, the T.V. was viewed as an “asset” to every home. Over the years, as television watching increased, it has shown its effects on family life. As parents began to be concerned about their children watching too much television, it grew to be one of the biggest influences in their life. This began to affect the family socially.

Television has become practically a way of life for many families. Parents need to take an active role in their child’s home life. Many parents today allow children to watch an extensive amount of television programs, so they can avoid the “demanding” life of being parents with children. It is the demands of the children that build the future relationships among the family members.
Today, families now spend more time watching T.V. than engaging in the special family traditions once shared. These rituals, not only brought the group together, but also gave a “special quality” to their family life. By not participating in these activities, families too lose their individuality and sense of “belonging”.
The television not only affects the family rituals, but has an impact on the connection between the family members as well. It weakens relationships by reducing and sometimes eliminating, normal opportunities for talking, and communicating with each other. It is well established that excessive television viewing breaks apart the family bond. Within the “breakdown” of many families, television may have played a serious role.
The T.V. prevents families from forming that personal connection they need to develop as people. Reduced communication within the family, and too much television watching, also negatively affects the ability of the child to carry on future relationships with others. Children often perceive the images they see as reality, for they often are too young or too absorbed in the television viewing to recognize and distinguish the differences between television drama, and real life.
In Winn’s essay, she has made it very apparent, that watching an excessive amount of television has a destructive effect on family life. Constant television viewing can be harmful to a person’s social and intellectual development. When families do not interact enough with one another, they lose a certain aspect of family life that is important in any relationship. In many households today, families no longer spend “special quality time” together, and the television occupies almost all of the spare time families have available.
Although Winn’s essay expresses the television as very negative aspect of family life, it can be a very valuable informational tool in today’s households. It plays a dominant role in our society. The television keeps parents and children informed on current events. Also, television programs may influence growing children in a very positive way. In today’s society, there are several positive programs geared towards child development. These programs can be very helpful in households with working parents.
In conclusion, television only affects today’s family life as much as they allow it to. The television has greatly impacted and altered: former means of communication within the family, leisure time activities, and child development. A family’s interaction with one another, and the important time they spend together, can be a significant factor in the family member’s ability to function properly in today’s society. Today’s family should make a noble effort in improving the relationships between the members of the family. Parents must take an active role in their child’s television watching experiences, and they must consciously be aware that they need to distinguish between quality time spent as a family and time spent around the television.

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