A National Disease?
At any time between four in the afternoon and midnight, at least ten million viewers in Great Britain are sure to be watching television. This figure can even rise to 35 million at peak viewing hours. With such large numbers involved, there are those who would maintain that television is in danger of becoming a national disease.
The average man or woman spends about a third of his or her life asleep, and a further third at work. The remaining third is leisure time — mostly evenings and weekends, and it is during this time that people are free to occupy themselves in any way they see fit. In our great-grandfathers’ days the choice of entertainment was strictly limited, but nowadays there is an enormous variety of things to do. The vast majority of the population, though, seem to be quite content to spend their evenings goggling at the box. Even when they go out, the choice of the pub can be influenced by which one has a colour television; it is, in fact, the introduction of colour that has prompted an enormous growth in the box’s popularity, and there can be little likelihood of this popularity diminishing in the near future. If, then, we have to live with the monster, we must study its effects.
That the great boom in television’s popularity is destroying “the art of conversation” — a widely-held middle-class opinion — seems to be at best irrelevant, and at worst demonstrably false. How many conversations does one hear prefaced with the remarks, “Did you see so-and-so last night? Good, wasn’t it!” which suggests that television has had a beneficial rather than a detrimental effect on conversational habits: at least people have something to talk about! More disturbing is the possible effect on people’s mind and attitudes. There seems to be a particular risk of television bringing a sense of unreality into all our lives.
Most people, it is probably true to say, would be horrified to see someone gunned down in the street before their very eyes. The same sight repeated nightly in the comfort of one’s living-room tends to lose its impact. What worries many people is that if cold-blooded murder — both acted and real — means so little, are scenes of earthquakes and other natural disasters likely to have much effect either?
Such questions are, to a large extent, unanswerable, and it is true to say that predictions about people’s probable reactions are dangerous and often misleading. But if television is dulling our reactions to violence and tragedy, it can also be said to be broadening people’s horizons by introducing them to new ideas and activities — ideas which may eventually lead them into new hobbies and pastimes. In the last few years there has been a vast increase in educative programmes, from the more serious Open University, to Yoga and the joys of amateur gardening. Already then people have a lot to thank the small screen for, and in all probability the future will see many more grateful viewers who have discovered new pursuits through the telly’s inventive genius.
Television, arguably the most important invention of the twentieth century, is bound to be exerting a major influence on the life of the modern man for as long as one dare predict: that it will also continue to grow in popularity as the years go by is virtually certain. Yet in arousing hitherto unknown interests — challenging to its own hold over the lethargic minds of its devotees — it is not inconceivable that television may be sowing the seeds of its own downfall.
(From: Arnold J., Harmer J.
“Advanced Writing Skills”. Ldn., 1980)
a) As you read the text, find the arguments the author gives to illustrate the following:
1) The statement that television is destroying the art of conversation seems to be irrelevant. 2) Television is dulling viewers’ reactions to violence and tragedy. 3) Television is broadening people’s horizons. 4) Television is of a self-destructive nature.
b) The text “A National Disease?” comments on the alarming trends in television broadcasting and their implications for general public. In the article “The Media is in Need of Some Mending” (“The Wall Street Journal”, December 11, 2006) Peter R. Kann, Chairman of Dow Jones, explains the 10 most recent disturbing trends in mass media (http://online.wsj.com; http://www.kullin.net/2006/12/10-disturbing-trends-in-mass-media/). How does his article enlarge upon the issue of mass media being a cause for alarm?
If you feel that a historical perspective on the problem can be helpful, you may refer to the influential essay “Towards a Semiological Guerrilla Warfare” (1967) by an Italian philosopher, essayist, literary critic and novelist Umberto Eco (http://www.american-buddha.com/lit.towardsemiologicalguerrilla.htm).
6. “How TV affects children” is an issue about which teachers and parents are naturally very concerned. Read the following article, which summarizes the results of a study carried out in 2007 by Frederick Zimmerman and Dr. Dimitri Christakis of the University of Washington. While reading the article, fill in the gaps with the appropriate prepositions or particles (if necessary). Find the arguments the author uses to prove that the beneficial effect of baby videos as educational tools is rather questionable.
Smarter kids through television: debunking myths old and new
The digital divide used to separate rich … poor; now it separates parents … their children. Whether it's infants watching the new 24-hour "Baby's First TV" channel, or teenagers instant messaging while they watch last night's "Daily Show" … their iPods, television is an enormous presence … the lives of kids today. The average American child spends three … five hours a day watching it. And they start their viewing careers much earlier than ever before: … 1961, the average child began to watch television … age 3; today it is 9 months.
Yet, for all the television kids are watching, much … what parents think they know … television's impact … their children is wrong. … instance, … the early 1970s, it was common knowledge that television was bad … your eyes: My own parents were convinced that my bad eyesight was the result … sitting too close … the screen, and they therefore made me stay … least 6 feet … it. Today, most people know that television viewing does not cause vision problems, but a host … new myths have emerged, still ripe… debunking:
• TV makes kids dumb. Actually, high-quality TV shows such as "Sesame Street" and "Blues Clues" improve children's cognitive abilities. Study after study has shown that children 3…5 years old who watch "Sesame Street" … an hour a day are better able than those who don't to recognize numbers, letters and shapes. When 500 kids who had participated in some of those studies were followed… as teenagers, those who had watched educational programs as preschoolers had higher grades, were reading more books, placed more value on achievement and were more creative than those who had not watched.
• TV makes kids violent. The real story is more complicated. In 1994, researchers reviewed hundreds…studies involving thousands …children and concluded that there was clear evidence that watching violence … TV makes children more aggressive. Similarly, preteens and teenagers exposed… sexual content … television are much more likely to engage … the kinds… activities they see … the screen.
But a study … more than 5,000 children also found that "pro-social" programs (think "Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood") make children kinder and more tolerant. … fact, the linkage … good behavior and watching good programming is as strong as the link between bad behavior and bad programming. The problem is that kids are increasingly watching shows … violence and sex instead … programming that is appropriate … their age.
• Educational videos make infants smarter. The names — such as Baby Einstein and Brainy Baby — suggest one thing, but the data suggest otherwise. According … a 2005 report … the Kaiser Family Foundation, no program targeting children younger than 2 has demonstrated any educational benefit.
Evidence … studies my colleagues and I have done suggests that early viewing (… age 3) may be harmful … children's cognitive development. We found that children who watch TV … age 3 score worse … tests … letter and number recognition … entering school than those who do not watch. And … each hour … television a child watches … average per day … age 3, the chances that child will have attention problems … age 7 increase … 10 percent. A 2005 University of Pennsylvania study found that even watching "Sesame Street" before age 3 delayed a child's ability to develop language skills.
• Sitting around watching television — instead…playing outside — makes kids overweight. In fact, being a couch potato is not what causes obesity. Kids sit around to read, too, but no one suggests that reading causes…obesity. A 1999 Stanford University experiment found that when elementary-school children watched less television, they did lose …excess weight; however, reducing…their television time did not make them more active.
What that suggests is that television-watching itself — unlike other sedentary activities such as reading, block-building or working … art projects — encourages overeating. Snacking … front … the tube is a widespread habit (… kids as well as adults) and the barrage … junk-food advertisements only heightens that temptation. … 70 percent … the ads children see … television are for food products, and virtually none … them is for healthy choices. A 2005 Harvard University study found that, … average, children eat about 170 more calories per day for each hour of television they watch, and all of those calories are derived … foods commonly advertised … television commercials.
• Television helps kids get to sleep. The opposite is true. In a 2005 study of more than 2,000 children, my colleagues and I found that the more television children watch, the more likely they are to have … irregular sleep and nap patterns. As common as it is — about three-fourths of children had television as part of their bedtime ritual, according to a national survey — allowing kids to watch television because they can't sleep is part of the problem, not the solution.
• Kids watch too much television. Actually, the bigger problem is what they watch and how they watch it. … what some consider the halcyon days of television, families used to gather … a single centrally located set and watched high-quality, family-centered programming together.
Nowadays, the typical U.S. household has multiple television sets; family members (including young children) sit alone and watch programs that too often are violent and sexualized. When parents watch with their children, the value …the best television programs is enhanced — and the harm… negative programming can be curtailed.
(By Dimitri Christakis, February 22, 2007 http://community.seattletimes.nwsource.com/archive/?date=20070222&slug=tvoped22)
7.The following article by Steven Pinker, a Canadian-American cognitive scientist, linguist and author of a number of popular science books, including “The Language Instinct” (1994) and “The Stuff of Thought” (2007) (http://pinker.wjh.harvard.edu/books/) enlarges on the pros and cons of using the modern media in academic studies and research. Eight sentences have been removed from the article. Choose the most suitable sentence from the list A-H for each gap (1-8) in the article.
AThe decades of television, transistor radios and rock videos were also decades in which I.Q. scores rose continuously.
BIf electronic media were hazardous to intelligence, the quality of science would be plummeting.
CNovelists read lots of novels, scientists read lots of science.
DSearch engines lower our intelligence, encouraging us to skim on the surface of knowledge rather than dive to its depths.
EThey must be acquired in special institutions, which we call universities, and maintained with constant upkeep, which we call analysis, criticism and debate.
F Far from making us stupid, these technologies are the only things that will keep us smart.
GThe solution is not to bemoan technology but to develop strategies of self-control, as we do with every other temptation in life.
HBut cognitive neuroscientists roll their eyes at such talk.
Äàòà äîáàâëåíèÿ: 2015-09-11; ïðîñìîòðîâ: 5 | Íàðóøåíèå àâòîðñêèõ ïðàâBy P. G. Aldrich | ESSENTIAL VOCABULARY | READING COMPREHENSION EXERCISES | Answer the following questions and do the given assignment. | Study the essential vocabulary and translate the illustrative examples into Russian. | Read through the following phrasal verbs and translate the illustrative sentences into Russian. | Electronic Media (The Internet) | Read the following text on American and British print media and complete the gaps with the suitable words from the list below. |