Social Impact of Television Around the World

Some people believe television provides only a means for entertainment in our society. Others believe it has had a strong negative impact. Many people argue that television has turned people into “couch potatoes” causing obesity and created an antisocial society. However, there is no proof that obesity is caused by avid television use. On the contrary, there is proof that television is creating a more global society. Mass Media 12/3 Article 2 states that “more coverage of a country on evening news shows is related to increased sympathy and support for that country.” This is obvious in cases of natural disasters such as the tsunami which devastated Japan in 2011 and the catastrophic 7.0 magnitude earthquake which destroyed Haiti in 2010. The news coverage provided powerful images and live video which helped citizens of others countries, including the U.S., see how severely these strangers miles away had been impacted. Live video feed shrank the emotional distance between people of different continents and brought people from all of over the world to a similar state of oneness and sympathy. In response, large quantities of donations and people traveled to Japan and Haiti to help rebuild the countries.

Television has also made large impacts within certain countries such as Brazil and India where women had little sense of individuality or independence. Once television reached Brazil via the Rede Globo network in the 1970s, rates of divorce increased while fertility rates decreased. In 1970 most Brazilian women had around six children. However, the women featured on soap operas had only one or two children and were divorced. This new idea of what a woman’s life could be had a profound impact when television swept over Brazil. Furthermore, because ads for contraception were nonexistent in Brazil, it was easy to determine that soap operas were the main cause for the dramatic social change. Studies show that “being in an area [in Brazil] covered by the Globo network had the same effect on a woman’s fertility as two additional year of education.” Similar studies in rural India revealed that television access had the same effect on fertility as an additional five years of school. These studies and other like them prove that television can and does have a large impact on society and maybe that television is as important as traditional education.

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