Is television a bad influence on teens?I am trying to help my middle school debate team get ready for their first debate. I'd like a variety of opinions and sources, please! Thanks in advance. :)

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Anything that repeatedly pushes ideas or situations on people regarding things that are not realistic, or that sends messages to shape the minds of those receiving those messages, needs to be monitored. Personally, I think that television ads and celebrities paint an unrealistic picture of what is "fun," what isdesirable, and what spells "success." It's hard to watch teens emulating people who act not with intelligence but simply with a desire to have a good time, regardless of the possible consequences. Certainly teens make choices: no one makes them act like some celebrities or believe that whiter teeth will make them happy. However, as so many kids are raising themselves, or have parents that believe the same things they see on the tv screen, can we really expect teens to somehow know better?

 

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Here are some sources that may be helpful:

http://scholar.google.com/scholar?q=influence+of+television+on+teenagers&hl=en&as_sdt=0&as_vis=1&oi=scholart

http://yale.edu/ynhti/curriculum/units/1984/5/84.05.03.x.html

http://www.usatoday.com/news/health/2004-09-06-teens-tv-sex-usat_x.htm

http://www.rand.org/pubs/research_briefs/RB9068.html

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I think that teenagers are less influenced by television than they have been in the past. Not much is taboo any longer. Before, when nudity and foul language first hit the television, teens were definitely more influenced by it. Today, not much surprises teens. Given that media is so open, new "ideas" are pretty much gone.

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It is my considered opinion that, while TV has a potential for neutrality and an equal potential for good (in fact, often exercises both those potentials), it has a presently active influence for harm (and an even greater potential for negative influence that is often fulfilled).

Two specific examples, the first example relates to what I call billycrystalism and the second to something Tolstoy lamented, the shaping of women's roles and attire to align with those of "women of the street." Billy Crystal made a fabulous career out of snide witticism and--coming from him--such are amusing to some and down right funny to others. What is neither funny nor amusing is hearing parents, for example, toss billycrystalisms at their 3-year-olds then congratulate each other for being so profoundly amusing while the child cringes in humiliation, confusion and shame. This is an absolutely true and direct negative influence of TV as Billy Crystal's old movies are shown on TV.

The other is how visual images impact the development of mental constructs of self--this negative influence is confirmed by the controversy in the modeling industry and by national governments implementing corrective measures around the world--that manifest in how girls and women dress, groom, walk, stand, and in general deport themselves and, sadly, it all falls along the same lines as that which Tolstoy lamented (I believe the title in which he addresses this is Family Happiness, 1853.)

Therefore, while TV has a potential for neutrality and even good, its present state realizes its equal potential for harm and has been doing so at an accelerating rate for at least three decades.

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Too much of almost anything can be a bad influence on someone.  Young people are more impressionable, that is true, but I think people tend to overestimate the effect of TV on their thinking patterns and actions.  If a teen watches 9 hours a day, then they are probably neglecting other important areas of their social development.  Exposure to constant violent and/or sexual images and situations probably isn't positive either, but I don't think television itself is a bad influence.

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I believe too much TV is a bad influence--mostly in the time-wasting sense--on just about anybody. Teens are easily influenced by many different things, and many people tend to believe, unconditionally, whatever they see and hear. It's just another reason that parents should maintain a vigilant eye on all of their children's actions. I have always been able to use TV as a sort of background to my own reading, studying, lesson planning, etc., but for many people, it's a distraction that interferes with more important needs.

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You've already got some well-stated positions for your debate team to further explore!

I'm afraid I think television is more of an influence on all of us, not just teens, than we realize. In an age when communications are becoming faster and more pervasive, constant publicity about television celebrities is unavoidable. Because the content of so much of that publicity concerns negative actions and/or comments and may include pictures of less-than-positive role models, the messages to which teens are being exposed are not always healthy or moral. I hope that most teens (and most others of all ages) are able to discern the true content behind these messages, but I fear some are impacted by what they see or hear about on television.

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The media is extremely powerful, and thus, can have a bad influence on everyone, not just teens. I do believe the influence of television is in more subliminal ways, for instance, a teen who sees only thin women in romantic roles may start to feel that they need to be thin in order to find love and be desired. However, I believe that what is shown on television parallels what is happening in society; thus, when a teen sees such things on television it may reinforce what they already believe and what they are already experiencing in their own lives.

That being said, I do not believe that television alone is powerful enough to cause any severe changes in the lives of most well-rounded teens.

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What do you mean by an influence? I think it is possible to argue that everything is an influence on us, but perhaps we can say that we make the meaning for ourselves. I tend to view things like the internet in strictly neutral terms, but it is the use we make of it and that determines whether it is a good influence or not. If a kid spends all day watching violent films, then I think this will not be a positive influence, but in moderation, I don't see any problem with television.

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My opinion is that it is not.  I think that people have their values pretty well set by the time they reach their teens.  I do not think that teens will generally watch TV and be so influenced by what they see as to change their values in any significant way.

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