06 April, 2011
Analysis of Marie Winn's, "Televison: The Plug-In Drug"
In the current world, many families have more than one television. It has become a necessity as food, clothing and shelter. In Marie Winn's essay, she describes the effects of television on young children and the family environments at home. Television is one of the most dominating factors that diverts from family time and family relationships. It also has a strong impact on people dealing with situations in 'the real world.'
When it was first introduced to American society, initial claims were that, "television will take over your way of living and change your children's habits, but this change can be a wonderful improvement" (Winn 457). This new asset to everyday American life, was meant as an instigator to bring the family closer together. Television sets were extremely costly when they first appeared. But now, "more than three quarters of all American families would own two or more sets" (Winn 458).
Television dwindles the opportunities for families to be able to communicate with each other on a regular basis. Whether it be through families gathering at the dinner table or family game-night. "Yet parents have accepted a television-dominated family life so completely that they cannot see how the medium is involved in whatever problems they might be having" (Winn 459). Many families now in American society, use the television as a barrier in order to shield themselves from everyday family problems. A so called getaway, that just prevents family issues from being solved. As Winn states:
But surely... If the family does not accumulate its backlog of shared experiences, shared every-day experiences that occur and recur and change and develop, then it is not likely to survive as anything other than a caretaking institution. (Winn 460-61)
When the whole family is based on watching television each and day, there is zero opportunity to ask "How was your day today?" or "Did you have fun with your friends?" Just as any family who doesn't have the privilege of owning a television would. Winn's point is that, television takes away that essence of being a unique family. Being able to discuss every-day matters and improving on the relationship between parent and child, along with family issues, is something that should occur in every family. Avoiding those problems entirely is a potential issue with every family household who owns more one or more television sets.
Childhood is meant to be the growth years of a child, where they learn how to communicate socially, deal with emotions while in a cohesive learning environment. A child that watches T.V. all day within their own home causes zero family time. A great majority of their learning is derived from media. Which prevents them from interacting socially with real people. The television does not provide them with the basis of communicating with real people. When parents come home from work, they should share experiences with the family and interact with their children yet "somehow the television had become more attractive" (Winn 462). The woman from Chicago's statement indefinitely envelops the meaning of Winn's statement, "It destroys the special quality that distinguishes one family from another, a quality that depends to a great extent on what a family does, what special rituals, games, recurrent jokes, familiar songs, and shared activities it accumulates" (Winn 459). These the two statements they both explain that television had become superior in family gatherings and it became a ritual of its own. Families would rather watch television than play or chat amongst themselves; as they did before television was ever invented. A family is a unique and treasureable aspect of life. It's where children and adults become stronger in the reality of life, get through life problems together and become better human beings overall. Family should be the most important aspect in life and a social environment you can go to when things are great or rough. Television can be instrumental in preventing these aspects of family. Families tend to communicate less when they use television as a barrier to family issues, which makes talking to each other very near impossible. Television:
is the elimination of opportunities to talk and converse, or to argue, to air grievances between parents and children and brothers and sisters. Families frequently use television to avoid confronting their problems, problems that will not go away if they are ignored but will only fester and become less easily resolvable as time goes on. (Winn 463)
Winn explains that television is an escape method a way to get away from the daily stress and issues within a family. By using the television as a wall to the problems, it festers them causing them to be irresolvable as the days and years go by.
Television involves zero interaction or communication, which has an enormous effect on children's relationships with real-life people. As children are spending more and more time watching television, depending on what they are watching, are they really learning anything productive that can't be learned within their family environment? Winn definitely hits the head on the nail when she states, "But no eye contact is possible in the child-television relationship, although in certain children's programs people purport to speak directly to the child and the camera fosters this illusion by focusing directly upon the person being filmed" (Winn 462). She explains that when children are presented with a real-life situation, which is more complicated than the ones shown on television, they are a 'deer in the headlights.' Their eye contact recedes to shifting their eyes and looking around the room. This "may play a significant role in one's success or failure in human relationships." (Winn 462)
Television is one of the sole reasons that family traditions and family gossiping times have been either "reduced or eliminated" (Winn 466). Television has become much more attractive than family time. It has become a tool for humans to use to put ourselves in the closet and to shield ourselves from all of the everyday problems that occur inside of a family environment. Winn's point of television having a negative effect on the lives in a family environment, is one that we can prevent ourselves. Families should get rid of the television sets altogether to become closer as a family, and be able to provide a healthy family environment in order to prepare their children for life. The television has become a babysitter, a companion and a way of isolating oneself. As long as children are still watching television they are losing themselves from reality.
Winn, Marie “Television: The Plug-In Drug.” 50 Essays: A Portable Anthology. Ed. Samuel
Cohen. Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2007. 457-66. Print.