Books are known as the first medium bearing the function of conveying information to people; they were invented about 5000 years ago. If books can be considered as the traditional medium, television is the modern one. In fact, it was first introduced in public in the late 1920s and soon became a significant part of the daily life. Both of these media provide people with information, news as well as knowledge, but each kind has some distinct features. The similarities as well as the differences between reading books and watching TV vary, but they can be divided into three main aspects: the activity factor, entertainment and social interaction. The first critical aspect differentiating reading written works and watching television is the activity factor. The activeness of mental activity between reading and watching TV is significantly different. While reading book, one can readily imagine the scene of the book in his or her mind and decode what the author means, which can help one improve his or her imagination. In contrast, watching TV makes one receive images passively, which means his or her imagination is controlled by others. Ordway (2010) states that compared to reading books, watching TV is noticeably less strenuous. In addition, when reading, one can control his or her time and activated more effectively than watching TV. For instance, one can either increase or reduce his or her reading speech, re-read pages or chapters he or she likes, all of which one cannot do while watching TV. However, both reading printed works and watching TV are involved in little physical activities. Secondly, the similarities and differences between reading and watching TV can be demonstrated through the entertainment. In general, the target that both reading and watching TV aim at is to entertain people. People often either read books or watch TV when they have free time or want to relax after a hard working day. However, the levels of entertainment are not the same. Reading books requires one more power and time to transfer words into images; thus, one is more likely to keep in his or her mind the content of the books. As a result, it can be said that reading a deeper level of entertainment. However, every stick has two ends; certain kinds of entertainment may not be available in books such as live sports, news, etc. Meanwhile, one can watch a live football march or a performance on TV. Through watching TV, one can relax and enjoy many kinds of entertainment with fewer attempts (Rubenoff, 2012). In short, watching TV has greater variety of entertainment. The last aspect displaying the similarities and differences between reading and watching TV is: social interaction. Both of them can be used as conversation starters. The information shown on TV or books can be a favorite subject for everyone to discuss with each other. Moreover, reading book and watching TV are activities that can ease the sense of isolation. When being home alone, one can lie in bed and watch TV or read books. The sound and images on the screen or books can distract one's attention from the loneliness and the negative thinking. However, one is more likely to get addicted to watching TV; he or she may spend much time watching TV, become a couch potato and not feel like communicating with others. On the other hand, reading books is different. One can also enjoy a book himself or herself so much that he or she “gets lost” in it. “In other words, his brain simulates real experiences, just as if he were living them himself” (Hilary, 2012). However, unlike those who watch TV, readers are less likely to get addicted; when their eyes get tired, they can put the books down and go out for a walk or talk with friends. As a result, readers may interact with society better than viewers.
To sum up, reading written works and watching TV have both similarities and differences in the activity factor, entertainment and social interaction. Through reading, one can extend the boundary of his or her imagination and relax without being afraid of getting addicted to it. In comparison, watching TV requires less thinking and is easier to become addicted to, but it can supply one with various kinds of entertainment. Taking everything into account, we can say that both reading and watching TV have pros and cons; the point is that we need to know how to balance between them and benefit from them the most.
Hilary, F. (2012, August 25). Getting lost in a good book can help you keep healthy. Retrieved August 19, 2014, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2193496/Getting-lost-good-book-help-healthy.html
Ordway, H. (2010, Jan 17). Reading Versus Television: Which is better? Retrieved August 18, 2014 from http://www.hieropraxis.com/2010/01/reading-versus-television-which-is-better/
Rubenoff, T. (2012, October 23). Television vs. Book? Retrieved August 16, 2014 from http://tomrubenoff.hubpages.com/hub/Television-or-Book