One of the greatest inventions of the scientific world that has contributed immensely to the development of mankind is the invention of television. It is a great source of information and entertainment brought to the comfort of our households. It is a boon for the lonesome, elderly people and proves bane for the innocent kids. It is informative but addictive. It keeps one up to date but is rather disruptive. It is a mixed blessing.
The history of television compromises the work of numerous engineers and inventors in several countries over many decades. Television in India was introduced with an experimental telecast in Delhi in September 1959 when UNESCO gave the Indian Government some TV sets and financial support. Until 1975, only seven Indian cities had the television service.
Colour TV was introduced in 1982 in the Indian market. At that time there was only one national channel Doordarshan. TV programmes were broadcast twice a week from an hour a day on topics such as community health, citizen’s duties and rights etc. The Ramayana and Mahabharata were the first major television serials produced. Since then, television has travelled a long way. From Doordarshan to MTV; from one channel to hundreds of channels, from 1 or 2 hour programme per week to 1000 programmes running simultaneously 24 x 7. From huge box it has now turned to an ultra-slim flat screen on the wall; from black and white world it has been converted to high-definition 3D technology, from remote control system to the latest being the gesture control system. TV has and is seeing complete reversal in advancement with each passing day. Starting with just news and mythological serials, TV today entertains us in every possible way; be it lifestyle, health, food, science and technology, fake cinemas or music or cartoons, literally everything.
The most obvious and important advantage of television is news. News that took months to travel from one place to another now takes just a fraction of second, minus the distorting factor of human messengers. The impact of this improved communication on our lives is great indeed. We are not only better informed of current events all over the world but we are also exposed to a multitude of different cultures and ways of life. These days news is telecast in different regional languages so as to reach the maximum. TV is matchless source of entertainment. It provides hours of fun and enjoyment to young and old alike. Video games are wonderful tools for developing hand-eye coordination.
Channels like National Geographic, Discovery Channel, History TV18 are highly informative. It really makes us aware of the real wonders of our earth and universe. Apart from news and music channels, lifestyle channels like NDTV Goodlife, and cooking/food channels are also gaining momentum amongst the viewers. Pertaining to the viewership, TS Eliot once quoted that:
“Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time….”
Through the medium of TV, manufactures are able to reach out to consumers more effectively. The advertisements on TV serve to inform the consumers about new products. However, now-a-days we are literally overwhelmed by dozens of advertisement clips on TV all vouching for how good their products are. Apart from this TV is an invaluable education tool. It enables the educational planners to coordinate and inform the school children about the requirements of various subjects. Kids can learn so many activities, craft work, rhymes and games through channels like Pogo.
These days even cable network providers like TATA Sky too have been telecasting smart kids programmes to enhance the general knowledge of the kids. On the other hand cartoons like Shin Chan, Doraemon, which lack morals and values, and are banned in their origin countries are being widely watched by Indian kids.
Elsewhere, TV is used both as a surveillance tool and an ‘eye’ at inaccessible places. e.g. in banks and other large commercial centres, TV serves to maintain security. In deep-sea exploration, TV is used to reach places where no man can go. To go into details on every use and abuse of TV would require volumes of books. How we make use of this wonderful invention is entirely up to us. Used with care, it is a boon to mankind. Used at abandon, it can be a curse instead. Steve Jobs has rightly said:
“There are downsides to everything; they are unintended consequences to everything. The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve seen is called television—but then, again, television, at its best, is magnificent.”
Television comes with a lot of drawbacks too. Foremost being the health issues. It deteriorate one’s vision. The thinking process can get so muddled up that one would not be able to think clearly.
Viewing TV at high volume has been seen as hampering the function of ears. It is highly addictive too. Other than this TV provides no educational benefits for a child under the age of 2. Worse, it steals time for activities that actually develop their brain by interaction with others.
Watching soap operas, violence, explicit shows, superflows habits, horror shows render teenagers with bad behaviour. TV provides counter images to reality and supplies visual forms for fantasies and day dreams and in some cases have even given rise to anti-social activities.