I believe that TV is good for children. Not hours and hours, of course, but some. I remember that one of my childhood friends did not have a TV. I thought her life must be miserable. How could you live life, I wondered, without watching TV?
TV connects people. Just ask a kid from the 90s about Saved by the Bell, Full House, Pokemon, Power Rangers, or Ninja Turtles. A flood of memories from their childhood will bring a smile to their face—their crush on Zach, or all those times they tried out the new moves they learned from the Pink Ranger on their little brother. Mention these shows to a kid who grew up post-2000, and you will be met with a blank stare, instantly making you feel a thousand years old.
When I was about ten, my parents decided that my brother and I watched too much TV. They unplugged it, put it in a box, and carried it out to the garage. Chris and I begged. We pleaded. We cried. How could we survive? Of course, this only strengthened my parents resolve. Over the next few weeks, we found other things to do. We read (which we had always done). We played outside (which we had always done). We survived. Finally, my dad brought the TV back. Something about the Tour de France…Anyway, life went back to normal after that.
You cannot underestimate TV’s educational power. I learned how to count to ten in Spanish from Sesame Street, how to recognize letters and spell words from Wheel of Fortune, about great literature from Wishbone, geography from Where In the World is Carmen Sandiego?, environmentalism from Captain Planet, and science from Bill Nye the Science Guy and The Magic School Bus. Yes, I went to school. But nobody could make literature come alive like that cute little dog, and nobody could have made science interesting and fun like Bill Nye. I would have given anything to be in Ms. Frizzle’s class.
TV continues to influence us well past our childhood years. It becomes an escape from everyday life, a way to relax and forget about the troubles of the real world. You can cheer for Ross and Rachel, laugh at Kramer and his crazy antics, and thank God that at least your boss isn’t as deranged at Michael Scott. Your life seems sane and uncomplicated in comparison with the women of Wisteria Lane.
Whether it’s with the rest of the world as you watch the evening news or with your grandfather as he yells the right answer at the idiots on Jeopardy, TV connects people. Have you ever been in the room with a group of guys when their team scores a touchdown, or with a group of girls watching the season finale of The Bachelor? They talk, they laugh, they even cry. They are the player who scored the winning touchdown; they get to accept the final rose.
TV gives you the chance to live vicariously through other people, to be a peeping Tom without fear of arrest. And it gives you something to say on the playground (or at the water cooler) when one of your friends asks, “Hey, did you see what happened last night on…”