Television is a form of media that has great ability to influence and brainwash the viewing public. For many of us, television has replaced life and reality. The image in the TV has become more vivid and real than our everyday existence. It claims the center of our attention. For the first time in human history, most of the stories about people, life, and values are told not by parents, schools, churches, or others in the community who have something to tell, but by a group of distant conglomerates that have something to sell.
When we watch TV, we are in the alpha level. Much to the gratification of the advertisers, it is a highly programmable state of awareness. For too many of us, television has become a companion who is always there, doesn't argue, and is full of entertainment — the problem is, we are not in the habit of arguing with it either. Remember we don't distinguish between the real and the unreal — we simply act in accordance with the images present in our consciousness.
The biggest problem with the TV is that it doesn't require much of our brain. Unlike reading, or listening our mind doesn't need to imagine anything. Sight and sounds are done for us. Our brain need only go into "download mode." It is dangerous because we automatically download into our subconscious whatever is put before us on the TV – especially when we consider what gets broadcasted.
Eric Peper, an expert in biofeedback tells us that, “The horror of television is that the information goes in, but we don't react to it. It goes right into our memory pool and perhaps we react to it later but we don't know what we're reacting to. When you watch television you are training yourself not to react and so later on, you're doing things without knowing why you're doing them or where they came from.”
Today parents spend less time with their children, which is an important responsibility that no one or nothing can replace. As ex American President Clinton aptly said, “television… may be the third parent, but it can’t be the first or the second”. The media has more access to children than ever before, and it can develop certain bad habits, patterns and subconscious actions if the individual is too weak to fight its affect. Therefore, parents must spend more time with their children, otherwise, the old values will slowly slip away and new ones, established by television, will take their place for good.
In his historic "television is a vast wasteland" speech, Newton N. Minow said:
"[Television is] a procession of game shows, formula comedies about totally unbelievable families, blood and thunder, mayhem, violence, sadism, murder, western bad men, western good men, private eyes, gangsters, more violence, and cartoons. And endless commercials — many screaming, cajoling, and offending. And most of all, boredom. True, you'll see a few things you will enjoy. But they will be very, very few."
If commercials are the appetizer and dessert of each TV time slot, violence and sex are its main course that the sponsor's message sticks to your ribs. "To the advertiser, violence and sex equal excitement equals ratings.
According to a study conducted in United States of America, an hour of prime-time television includes about five violent acts. An hour of children's Saturday morning programming includes twenty to twenty-six violent acts. The average American child will witness 12,000 violent acts on television each year, amounting to about 200,000 violent acts by the time he turns eighteen years old... In a University of Illinois study, people who had watched the most violent TV between birth and age eight committed the most serious crimes by age thirty.
The study says that an appalling number of juvenile crimes — torture, kidnapping, rapes, and murders — have been traced to events portrayed on televisions.... A boy's television habits at age eight are more likely to be a predictor of his aggressiveness at age eighteen or nineteen than his family's socio-economic status, his relationship with his parents, his IQ, or any other single factor in his environment.'
We cannot ignore the study conducted in America because the influence of TV is almost the same everywhere if we let it influence our lives.
If we don't want to be homogenized, the best thing to do is turn off the TV set or think about it rationally for our own self-protection so our deeper levels of consciousness don't absorb it all non-critically in the name of reality. If our creativity is not buried under the sludge we will have better ways of spending our time than in front of televison. Remember our creativity comes from deeper levels. We have to give it space to surface. And we don't want to energize all the junk we watch by carrying it around in our real imaginations.