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Destructive Family Member

Destructive Family Member

Argumentative Essay Model

Jane Smith

Professor Nicole Wilson English 101.004

22 November 2011

Television: The Most Destructive Family Member

Televisions have evolved ever since their introduction into family homes in the 1920s. Numerous improvements have caused television’s’ popularity to rise. However, as televisions become nearly ubiquitous, so have the negative effects of television viewing. Television viewing has caused families to disregard productive activities, lose focus on building familial relationships, and minimize social interactions.

While family members once pursued sports, musical instruments, and other productive activities, many of these have been replaced with sitting on the couch in front of the television. The Bureau of Labor Statistics provided information about the time spent by Americans in leisure activities. Of the participants surveyed, the average amount of time spent participating in sports, exercise, and recreation is 17 minutes on weekdays and 20 minutes on weekends and holidays. Meanwhile, television watching consumed an average of 2 hours and 37 minutes on weekdays and 3 hours and 19 minutes on weekends and holidays (United States Department of Labor). To make the multiple hours of television worse, watching television lures people into becoming stationary and encourages the consumption of unhealthy snacks through a barrage of food advertisements (Carroll 87-94). Because the statistics show that the time spent on physical activity is a mere 10% of the time spent watching television, the negative effects of watching television will overpower any positive benefits of exercise even if a person does both activities.

As family members lose interest in beneficial activities, they also lose interest in each other as they devote more time to television viewing. Instead of parents choosing to spend time with their children after work, they often try to squeeze in time to watch the news before dinner. Instead of children choosing to spend time with their parents after school, they often watch television before or while finishing their homework. The Bureau of Labor Statistics released a summary of time spent on certain activities in households with married parents. In a household in which both parents work full-time, the average amount of time spent caring for and helping household children is 1 hour and 12 minutes on the mother’s part and 47 minutes on the father’s part. In comparison, the average amount of time spent watching television is 1 hour and 26 minutes and 2 hours and 3 minutes for the mother and father respectively (United States Department of Labor). This reveals that even parents, especially the father, would rather spend time with characters on a screen than their own children. Because the father is typically the role model for the children, especially young boys, his example may be assumed as proper behavior and followed by the children. In Steve Farrar’s book King Me: What Every Son Wants and Needs from His Father, the author explains, “When boys don’t connect with their dads, bad things happen to them. Real bad things…more young people [suffer] from mental illness, emotional distress, and behavioral problems” (40). This makes the huge difference between the amount of time spent with children and the amount of time spent watching television even more alarming.

As family members lose interest in one another, it is almost a certainty that they also reduce their social interactions with people outside of the family. This could be a result of a person’s desire to devote more time to watching television. However, the bigger problem could be that television alters a person’s perception of how to interact with other people instead of two-

dimensional figures seen on a television screen. Bruno Bettelheim, a child psychologist and writer, observes:

Children who have been taught, or conditioned, to listen passively most of the day to the warm verbal communications coming from the TV screen, to the deep emotional appeal of the so-called TV personality, are often unable to respond to real persons because they arouse so much less feeling than the skilled actor. Worse, they lose the ability to lean from reality because life experiences are much more complicated than the ones they see on screen. (Winn 211-212)

Therefore, a person who loses interest in socializing with other people may not be doing so simply because he or she would prefer watching television. Instead, he or she may be losing the ability to interact with other people because they have grown accustomed to communicating to characters on television instead.

Opponents of these views present several arguments. They emphasize that television is educational, especially for young children. They also claim that television viewing provides families the perfect opportunity to bond. Furthermore, they argue that television is beneficial because it allows a person to relax by acting as a diversion from stress.

However, these views may easily be refuted. While there are numerous educational shows available for children, how many parents actually make sure that children watch only those specific programs? In a national survey, results showed that a mere 15% of parents have used the V-Chip, a system that comes standard in all televisions that allows parents to block inappropriate television shows and leave only the educational ones (“Parents” 7). Therefore, although children could benefit from watching certain programs, education is not the main purpose of the television for children and parents. Although using television-viewing time to

bond as a family may have been more common when televisions were relatively new and expensive, families have neglected that practice as televisions became more affordable. More than 66% of all U.S. households have three or more television sets (Dutwin 60-62). Realistically, a family does not place multiply televisions in the same room, which eliminates the idea of

family bonding while watching television. Instead, family members are divided while watching their own shows on their own television set. Finally, it is undeniable that watching television gives a person time to relax. However, relaxing can turn into several hours of sedentary television viewing. In fact, research has shown that brain activity reduces when watching television. Alpha waves are activity waves in the human brain that are associated with meditation, relaxation, and, according to research, watching television. However, when the brain is in a state of low alpha waves for a long period of time, it can cause a loss of concentration for an average of thirty minutes afterward. This is because of the alpha waves’ ability to isolate the brain from any focused mental activities (Dutwin 44-47). Therefore, even after the television is turned off, the brain is still suffering from what is commonly referred to as “brain fog.” This could even endanger people—especially if the chosen activity after watching television is something that requires concentration and coordination, like driving.

In conclusion, television causes families to neglect other constructive activities; it causes families to believe that building familial relationships is unimportant; and it causes family members to reduce social interactions with others. Advocates for television disregard the reality that young children are still exposed to non-educational programming and that watching television is no longer a “family experience.” Without a doubt, television has become destructive for the family unit and will only continue its reign of terror as more advanced technology is discovered.

Works Cited

Carroll, Jamuna, ed. Television: Opposing Viewpoints. Detroit: Greenhaven Press, 2006. 87-94.


Dutwin, David. Unplug Your Kids: A Parent’s Guide to Raising Happy, Active, and

Well-Adjusted Children in the Digital Age. Avon: Adams Media, 2009. 60-62. Print. “Parents, Media, and Public Policy.” Washington, DC: Kaiser Family Foundation, 2004. 7.


United States. Dept. of Labor. “Married Parents’ Use of Time Summary.” Bls.gov. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2008. Web. 18 Nov 2010. <http://www.bls.gov/news.release/atus 2.nr0.htm>

Winn, Marie. “Television: The Plug-In Drug.” The Blair Reader. Ed. Laurie G. Kirszner and Stephen R. Mandell. 7th ed. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2010. 207-214. Print.

Annotated Bibliography Model

Herman, Joan L. and Jamal Abedi. “Assessing the Effects of Standardized Testing on Schools.” Educational and Psychological Measurement 54 (Summer 2004): 471-482. Print.

This article gives statistical data collected from upper elementary teachers in 48 different schools. 450 questionnaires were sent to the teachers to get information on what they thought of standardized testing. Questions included: how much pressure is felt from the principal or school district, how much time is spent reviewing for standardized tests, and to what extent changes in test scores are due to a change in instruction. The surveys were given out to all types of schools, poor and wealthy, and approximately 341 were received back. This article will provide me the background to talk about issue the video is analyzing. [Scholarly Peer Reviewed Journal]

Morse, Jodie, et al. “Is That Your Final Answer?” Time. 19 June 2002: 28-32. Print.

This article discusses the uproar that teachers, students, and even some principals are in because the standardized testing is beginning to be mandated for graduation from high school and for children to move on to the next grade. Students are signing petitions and marching on city halls around the United States. Students and teachers are protesting by walking out of tests and helping students with answers. Because of the high-stakes associated with standardized tests cheating is now occurring and problems are arising every day. This will provide me evidence to show how schools are changing to meet requirements set by the federal government and the problems these changes are causing, a topic the video uses to support its points. [News/Magazine Article]

Yardley, Jim. “A Test is Born.” New York Times 5 October 2004: A20. Print.

This article details how a test is made. A reporter was allowed to report on how Psychological Corporation, the company that makes the Stanford 9s, comes up with their exams. Tests can take years to produce, and much hard work and thought goes into making these tests as fair as possible. In just a few years, it is projected that over 26 states will require a test to graduate, keeping companies that publish the tests in business. This will provide me evidence of how the process of making tests is very local and this often results in issues when adapting it to other schools. This is also something the video talks about. [News/Magazine Article]

Invited Contributor. “Correcting a Harmful Misuse of Students’ Test Scores.” Education Week – Assessing the Assessments, Editorial Projects in Education, 3 June 2014, blogs.edweek.org/edweek/assessing_the_assessments/2014/06/correcting_a_harmful_misuse_of_students_test_scores.html.

This blog concludes: The higher the stakes associated with the use of an educational test’s results, the greater should be the scrutiny given to both the accuracy of score-based interpretations and to the appropriate usage of the test’s results. The writer, an expert and faculty in a California university, looks at how tests are not designed to be instructionally sensitive. That is, it does not account for the specific way a teacher teaches and how individual classes must make its own way of learning to take advantage of the skills and situations of that classroom. This is useful because it talks about how all tests are too standard to take into account individual teaching differences. [Website or Blog]

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Destructive Family Member


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