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The Influence of TV on Society Essay

Reality TV Shows

Reality TV shows are becoming widespread with the dawn of each and every day. We are living in a global world where information is imperative. The world of technology has offered the entire world to our proximity right at the bottom of our feet through a mere button click.  Everyone everywhere is now surrounded by virtual environments and reality TV. The question however remains whether what we are experiencing and having contact with has brought us to a point where our reality is distorted. We are living in a world where we are surrounded by the media showing air brushed woman creature, good looking men, ideal families and so on (Glynn, 2000). This is too much in our faces that people may begin to think that that is the way they are supposed to be and act; a manner in which we please. This research paper seeks to argue that the difference between life and real life as shown by the media in Reality TV shows is blurred and all reality sense and value is lost.

Reality TV is a comparatively emerging trend that took the world of television by storm. The viewers in their own comfort apparently are not getting tired of the embarrassment, temptation, and torture and most important of all the drama each day where people are being offered ideal settings and a pure manipulation for them to watch. Even though reality TV is a new trend somehow, it has exhibited huge growth and it looks like a more outrageous reality show is in the making or is being aired the next day. The society is plagued with pictures of horror and gruesome stories containing violence each and every day. This is all that is in most TV programs (Hill, 2005).

The issues in here are serious things that have affected the fabric of our society. Things which hold us and bring us together in what we believe. We have slowly changed into a world of fantasy and living as though we never existed. The values and norms integrated in reality TV leave a lot to be desired. There are fears that the society beliefs and values are going to be eroded and the very path of leading real lives be left out through this muddle. Reality TV shows are expected to show a real world and authentic events which can occur in reality and what people are in a position to do.  But can people in reality have the brain of an ostrich as their food? Or cheat on their spouse when we watch shows like Temptation Island? TV is a tool that influences the lives of human beings in various ways. Every individual at a particular stage have identified themselves with an actor on the TV either feeling sorry or in an angry position. When looking at the various groups of age watching the reality TV shows, we realize a wide arrangement from the middle to children in high school reaching even to the adults (Godard, 2004).

Teenagers and young children are the group that can get a lot of influence since many of them are in the process of finding out who they really are. Many of these shows mainly referred to as ‘reality shows’, host sexy individuals who are ever having good times while drinking, smoking and even having sex. The reality TV shows are simply saying that to have fun, you should smoke and drink because in essence, that is what is contained in them. This is what many Reality TV shows seem to incorporate as the main content. Having this in our minds, we have to wonder the reason children are drinking, abusing drugs and why the many pregnancies amongst them.  This connects to disinhibition theory where people learn a thing but the TV alters our learned social sanctions to something different. We always see drinking, sex and smoking on Reality TV shows and consider them to be good. Nobody feels like it’s anything little don’t we know that the societal values that we were raised with are fading away (Jenkins, 2006).

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Reality TV has therefore become so common since they offer an escape from the reality and the experiences in daily life situations. The shows carry away our imaginations and what we are supposed to deliberate upon in our daily lives. The shows really drive us away and we can ultimately come back with a button click. And this is deemed reality. This is the worst irony of all times. Owing to the things presented in the Reality TV shows, print media together with broadcast have become sensationalized. The viewers in our modern society want to see conflict, shock and drama. This ever-lasting key to effective show works but it is becoming uncontrollable. These TV series in modern world set up are outrageous and a reflection of our contemporary society since we get hold of anything. Reality TV shows do not only reflect on the society in a negative manner but also the elements forming part of the mass media (Hill, 2005).

As much as people would want to suggest otherwise, reality shows are never real as people take them to be.  The Reality TV shows are edited to the manner the producer desires and shaping everything depending on the anticipation of the viewer. It is a mastery of psychology put together in a way that meets the anticipation in the mind of the viewer not to present anything new in reality but just to satisfy a need which was aroused by that which does not exist. It is a way of steeling away from the realities of life. Many people think by watching the Reality TV shows, they will be in a position to deal with the issues in their lives. That is and will never be true. It is amazing how people will find themselves in need of watching the same similar programs even after watching them over and over again. The reason is because there are no real values presented in the shows. They are just fantasies that do not amount to anything in the life of the viewer (Murray & Laurie, 2004).

For instance, “Ms Feltz took part in an “all-star” account of the Reality TV show in aid of charity in 2009 looked like she had a breakdown in it.  There was a lot of editing that was made to make charity look mad. Reality TV in general has nothing more than a sparkle of reality and authenticity in it. It is quite hard to assert that something is in its reality when surrounded by many cameras where many viewers are going after each episode. I know many people view the same subject differently but its should not be felt as a dishonor if I pose a question like this, “would the contestants in Big Brother or in a similar context behave the same way if there were no cameras?” Then how real is this we are calling reality in Reality TV shows. I would say it is a mere manipulation and drama that only offers nothing but excitement which does not add up to an attractive picture to the conventional societal values (Godard, 2004).

Now if lets review Baudrillard who got a claim to fame following the prediction of the failure of Gulf War in 1991. In the war, Baudrillard asserted that it was not going to take its course and a moment after he claims yet another time it did not occur. This hypothesis is indeed annoying to some people but how can it be established that it in reality took place? Who was there to confirm it? What we saw was what the media presented. Baudrillard was stating that the war was performed as a media spectacle. A theory of cultivation offers a description of the link between programming the watch of the viewer and what can be experienced in reality. Watching television more and more exposes people to such reality distortions and begin viewing the entire world in the approach as found in reality TV shows (Murray & Laurie, 2004).

The cultivating nature of Reality TV shows give a suggestion that the connection between normal viewing of the television and the perception of reality as possessed by the viewer would be greatly changed by the viewing of the TV if the programming continuously inferred that the conditions and individuals being viewed were in reality authentic. The hard truth that will be bitter to many is that sensation sells a lot. The beauty and aesthetic value of the Reality TV show is that it leaves those watching the show feel part and parcel of the encounter, something that the comedy with intelligence cannot offer. Reality TV show takes advantage whereas drama was in a groove and is now in a position to sustain its position by way of capturing the audience comprising the young people (Hill, 2005).

A number of the concepts of reality are completely ridiculous although they get individuals to settle down and pay great attention. People want to come up with programs which would capture the minds of people just to earn money. This is what we can call agenda setting theory practices. Agenda setting is the formation of a public awareness together with concern over salient matters through the mass media. Two elementary assumptions underlying many agenda setting scenarios include: the media and the press who do not show reality but instead filter information and shape it to conform to a particular preconceived idea and; the concentration of media on some few matters and subjects which automatically makes the public look at them as important subjects (Jenkins, 2006).

The media gatekeepers entirely decide on the things we deliberate upon and discuss in our daily lives. This is as a result of the huge publicity a particular topic is given by the media. The attention the media gives to something like the Reality TV shows do not necessary mean that they are important. Sadly, only a few people have known that. All the same, even the few who know it have been caught up in the process. Everyone is after watching these Reality TV shows just because the media set an agenda on them. Families, friend and neighbors are stuck on the TV watching Reality TV shows forgetting that what actually is real is in their very nature that they uphold (Godard, 2004).

It is very ironical and something that even our governments have found no problem in them. The issue is really is not watching the reality TV show but what value does it have in the life of the viewer? Are we watching the reality TV shows out of ignorance or what are the reasons for watching them? All said and done, it remains a fact that the values of propagated in the so called Reality shows cannot measure up to the realities we experience in our daily lives. Reality TV shows give the wrong ideologies and assertions to the society. The content is very artificial and cannot be trusted to reinforce the things we believe in as a society. Reality TV shows thus have turned many into a captivity of some sort and even made them worse because some viewers want to practice what they saw on the show (Glynn, 2000).

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People in the end begin to keep silent when they feel that their perceptions on a subject like this are in the minority group. This has affected our people in three different ways. People have the public opinion about the Reality TV even without having an access to the results of opinion polls but they will still watch the Reality TV shows. Moral degradation and many other vices have emerged due to the preoccupation in our minds with things that cause us discomfort. People are often disturbed by what they see or hear and would want to establish the reason for that. In the process some like our children have got themselves on the wrong footing. In the process of practicing what they saw in the reality TV, they realize that this was not actually what they thought would turn out to be. Before they even realize it, some are caught up in a mess and their lives completely ruined (Murray & Laurie, 2004).

Again, individuals fear to be isolated and have an idea of the behaviors that will increase their chances of being isolated socially. In this case, Reality TV shows have put many in this trouble. Initially, they may do it as a fad but later on becomes an issue in dealing with it. People become reserved in expressing their views on a particular subject basically because they feel they will be isolated (Glynn, 2000).   Take an example of a scenario whereby a family with the parents and young high school children watching a Reality show on the Television with scenes of smoking and drinking and some other untamed habits. The father or the mother may be afraid to comment on something because they think that will cause some discomfort in the house. On the contrary, silence speaks a lot and far much sinks the sights deep down into the mind and heart of everyone. Now that the elderly did not comment on anything, it is considered right by the children to do as they please.

Well, no matter how the Reality TV shows have been rated for different categories of viewers in terms of age, the problem persists. In fact, this raises more curiosity as to why the show is restricted to some age group. We are living in complex modern systems and especially in the United States where everyone feels that they are busy to keep track of their close associates. In such a scenario, children might find themselves alone in the house and browse through different channels of their choice. They are not being selective but will watch whatever they come across with. This is the danger that Reality TV shows are having on the lives of the young ones (Hill, 2005).

Again, reality TV shows can portray any matter as the media people would choose to. If the media wants a murderer who is known to be guilty to appear innocent, the power is there to do so. The Reality TV shows place people we know are guilty of some offences in a broad light that cannot be questioned by the viewer. To the ignorant children, they will be lost in the show. They may not be in a position to state what is acceptable and what is not acceptable in the society as good thing. If the efficacy of the bad people in our society is felt through the reality TV shows, then we are doomed as a society. Reality TV shows at all cost cannot be regarded as utmost importance than the society and its laws. This kind of placement of the wrong people by Reality TV shows in good light for sure cannot be questioned in any conversation because the presumption made is that the society has accepted it that way and therefore propagating bad habits and practices.

Majority rules, they say, but majority may not be right. It is just an opinion that deserves its respect. However, the wrong thing can never be right due to the number of its supporters and thus Reality TV shows will continue to wash away the values in our societies. The fact that our opinion is different from the majority of the group, people are likely to be quiet. This is the nature of the trend that is seen with reality TV shows. The biggest vice that is even making the situation worse is the fact that most of the stations hosting the Reality TV shows are owned by the government. There is therefore the misconception that people are lured into that if the government advocates for that then there is no one to stand against it.

Reality TV shows therefore influence something called silence spiral as they determine the impressions concerning the opinions individuals can have in the public arena without being secluded. Reality TV shows in their content have thus silenced the opinions of the minority which are in essence the people with the right knowledge and perception concerning them. Whatever is presented in the media must offer the entire audience with the facts and the way they are happening within our society. It is my view that it is okay to talk about current events although it is really important to show real cause of violence without painting a different picture of the same. This simply makes the content void of any tangible truth.


The opinion presented in this paper is not to disregard the works of others. What is simply agitated for is the need to take into account the interests of the viewers. Providing for the interests of all requires good ethics and values in line with the reality on ground. Happiness and good life is not really what we see on Reality TV shows. Haven’t there been quarrels amongst the rich and mighty in power? Does happiness and having fun have to do with alcohol, cigarettes and such like stuff? Reality TV shows producers must take the interest of the society at heart. It is not only such things as sex and alcohol which sale. We cannot not let group or individual ambitions override national or societal values and interests. It is very important that the ideas presented in Reality TV show propagate the norms and values of our esteemed society.

In conclusion, every right has a limit and either way, boundaries should not be surpassed. Rules are rules remember and if we do not have them, we are nothing but savages. It is true that we have rights and freedoms, in this matter, the freedom of expression. However, we should not look on the “rights” part alone. There is need to consider the limits that we have put in our society to exercise control over the things that we have put in place. Reality TV shows cost governments a lot in dealing with the ravages of their outcome amongst individuals in the society. Therefore standards are important while we are producing any “Reality” TV show and letting our people to watch. Reality TV shows are apparently securing citizenship rights through the dissemination of pluralism of opinions and information. Individuals have desired sensation and anticipation for drama more than a real life encounter in the TV. It is therefore a pity to see producers benefiting from the downfall of society values and norms (Nichols, 1994).

This term paper looked at the issues affecting our society ranging from the moral degradation because what is advocated for in the media has always had an upper hand in the society. Well, it has also been found that the ignorant in the society especially the children are indeed suffering in the hands of Reality TV shows producers. Children have not yet know who they really are and yet the Reality TV shows are painting a different picture from the reality of what they are supposed to experience. These actions can never be justified. The societal values are daily being washed away in this muddle.   The difference between life and real life as shown by the media in real TV is blurred and all reality sense and value is lost. There are few social values upheld in our society. This has been occasioned by the opinions represented in the Reality TV shows and the “majority rule” (Jenkins, 2006). It does not matter, but the number of people in support of a particular subject or ideology cannot be a proof of its credit worthiness.

The Impact Of Television On Children

Television viewing is a major activity and has lots of influence on children.  Children spend an average of three to five hours watching television in day.  Television offers entertainment, information and company to children but at the same time it also influences them in many undesirable ways. Excessive watching of television by children may lead to children abandoning important activities that they are supposed to undertake such as playing, family interactions, social development and school work. From watching television the children learn lots of inappropriate information since they cannot differentiate between the fantasy and reality presented in the programs they watch (Potter, W. J. 1988).

Television watching exposes the children to the themes of drug and alcohol abuse, violence and sexuality, race and gender stereotypes. These themes affect the children’s way of thinking as they may assume that what they watch in the programs is safe acceptable and typical. This has further led to children being exposed to attitudes and behaviors that are difficult to understand and rather overwhelming.

Television watching by children is also beneficial in the sense that it has some programs that are educational entertain and keep company. The children have a chance to learn a lot about the globe, different cultures and also gain exposure to ideas   that   their surroundings or communities in which they live don’t offer them. Some of the television programs have positive role models and thus influence the children towards positive lifestyles (Rubin, A. M. 1977).

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Three infants between the ages of four and fifteen months (younger infants), three infants between the ages of two and five years (older infants),  four children between the ages of six to Eleven years and three between the ages of eleven and sixteen years who attended st lukes daycare center were observed respectively.

Children were observed through a viewing window for one hour for consecutive evenings. On the first day the younger three infants were observed, on the second day the older three infants were observed, on the third day children between the ages of six to Eleven years and finally on the fourth day the three children between the ages of eleven and sixteen years (adolescents) were observed and all their behaviors and reactions recorded.  During the observation period the children were left alone and undisturbed to avoid and outside interferences that would influence their behaviors or distract them.

Children watch and understand television in different ways depending on their ages and attention span. Different understanding of television in children can also be influenced by the amount of mental energy the child invests, life experiences undergone by the child and the way in which the information watched is processed. Infants only paid attention to the television for a few minutes as they were usually interested with other own activities and thus were likely not keen on the program content. After some twenty minutes they seemed not to be interested with the television and gave occasional glances especially when loud sounds and colorful pictures were displayed on the screen. The young infants started crying even before the observation period was over and thus had to be attended to.

The children aged two and half to five years the children were paying more attention to the television but they seemed to have limited ability to derive meanings from the program contents. These children had a tendency to imitate what they saw or heard in the television especially when the advertisements came they had memorized some of the words and repeated after the television. Most children had high preference for cartoons and other programs that were highly animated and with fast moving figures. The children were also heard saying new words that they heard from the television and this showed a form of learning that the children were experiencing from merely watching the television. The children concentrated very little on the television and at other times they continue playing and forgot the television.

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Observations from the children aged between six and eleven years revealed that they seemed to have developed a cognitive ability and attention span to follow continuous plots and make inferences about the implicit contents of the television programs, by doing so the children invested lots of mental efforts in processing the television information. The children also seemed to have developed an amazing taste for the horror movies perhaps in an attempt to overcome their own fears and they are sometimes prompted to becoming tolerant to fears and violence of the real world.

The children also showed some form of aggression especially when they were watching the cartoons and this was demonstrated when some started rolling all over the place and imitating what they were seeing while teasing each other with fists as a show of strength and might. The children as they watched the television they were constantly curious and kept asking each other questions such as what would happen next, which character in the program was stronger and more of an hero. The children also tried to indentify themselves with the characters in the programs.

The adolescent group that was the last to be observed and it comprised of children between the ages of eleven and sixteen years. This group while watching television was very composed and they seemed to have high levels of reasoning and abstract thought compared to the previous groups of children. The themes in the programs of preference by this group as was noted revolved around music videos that they seemed to really enjoy, romance and sex programs and horror movies. This group seemed to be calm while watching television compare to the others who were making several movements and noises. The adolescents focused more on the entertaining channels especially those which had music videos and movies. The adolescents also enjoyed snacks and soft drinks as they watched the television.

From the observations the infant children usually pay very little attention to the television and have no knowledge of program content, they are just involved in their other activities most of the time and are only intermittently able to put up meaningful combinations such as animals characters and humans that they can recognize. Violent content and other bad influences from the television programs cannot affect the children at this stage (Van Evra, J. 1990).

At the age of between two and six years the children were to pay more attention to the television and their ability to extract meanings from the programs is increased that explains why they tend to imitate what they hear or see in the television. The viewing habits that the children develop at this stage have lots of influence on their character. Most of then are mostly exposed to very violent scenes especially while watching cartoons, and from this increased exposure to viewing violent television content the children become more aggressive especially when they believe that the violence is a reflection of the real life situation.

Children should be encouraged to watch television with their parents or guardians so that if the programming turns violent the parents can discuss what happened and thus putting it the context that they want the children to learn.  At the same time patents should know what the children are watching and decide which programs are suitable and appropriate for their personality and age. The children fantasize a lot about aggressive and heroic themes particularly the boys; this is similar to findings made by (Palmer, E. L. 1988).

At the ages of eleven the children start focusing on family oriented of adult programming than they did when they were younger. At this stage they start to differentiate between the fantasy and the reality that the television programs present. The adolescent children also tend to imitate some of the programs on the television. The adolescent behavior of having snacks and soft drinks while watching television may have been influenced greatly by the advertisements and also from the programs that they wear watching They could be seen dancing according to the styles they were seeing in the television although their level of imitation is more advanced compared to that of the children aged between two and six years.

There is need to encourage the adolescents to analyze and express their opinions on the television content as a parental strategy to reduce aggressive behaviors and also improve their critical approach to the television programs. From the above findings it is evident that television has lots of influence on our children regardless the age and thus making it the duty of the parents to act as mediators of their children viewing. The television industry should also consider creating programs that are specifically aimed at child audience bearing in mind the interests of each age group.