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IELTS Writing Task

Do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

Watching television is bad for children.



"Too much of something is bad enough", crooned the Spice Girls in one of their popular hits, and these lyrics definitely hold so much truth in them, when applied to most things. Indeed, too much television watching has the potential to be extremely detrimental to social interactions and could potentially fray the threads of the nuclear family and the extended community, just as with any object of obsession that dominates one's life and robs them of the time for their loved ones. However, although I agree to a large extent with the dangers of too much television watching, I believe that its dangers are much more multifaceted than depicted in the question.

Television is enjoyed by viewers of all ages. When it was first invented in the early 1900s, television was at the heart of family bonding time. Its novelty made it the common pastime for the whole family to enjoy together. At the beginning, when TVs were not as ubiquitous as they are today, members of the community would congregate in a household that had the single television set in the whole neighbourhood. In its early conception, television was crucial to fostering family ties and community bonds. However, as television became prevalent in most countries and every household owned a TV set, the social role of television eventually took a backseat. Indeed, having their eyes glued to the TV screen everyday (and nowadays, to computer screens) would deprive children of time for social interactions and other productive activities that could contribute to their personal development as well as to the community development.

However, I believe this reasoning is oversimplifying the dangers of excessive TV enjoyment. Television, like all forms of entertainment media, still remains an important educational and information source, especially for developing countries and places with no access to the Internet. Nevertheless, having the TV as one's sole source of information also poses the risk of bias and forming unbalanced views in the minds of the viewers. For examples, Americans who only watched television and selectively only chose the Fox News outlet as their primary source of current affairs updates, despite available access to alternative outlets and the Internet, would have a skewed nationalistic and xenophobic slant in their views about issues like immigrants and refugees. Such limited exposure to the whole spectrum and sides of the issues would definitely have a far-reaching butterfly effect of a negative nature, not only to the persons, but to the rest of the world.

And to this one-sided perspectives brought about by having only one source of information, children are the most susceptible given their impressionable young minds. They, being the future of this world, are therefore the most in danger of reaping the detrimental effects of excessive television watching. In the US, 60% of all schoolchildren watch TV for more than 6 hours a day. Not only dos this deprive them of social interactions, this has negative consequences on their academics, physical and mental health. Watching TV is a purely passive form of entertainment where it is a one-way travel of information from TV networks through their programs, and more disconcertingly, from marketing companies through their advertisement commercials. All these subversive messages infiltrate our children's minds and could potentially inculcate within them undesirable ideas such as consumerism, distorted notions of beauty and materialism. Furthermore, studies have linked childhood obesity to excessive TV watching, because the passive nature of this form of entertainment encourages binge-eating on junk food while being sedentary on the couch, instead of exercising and playing outside. The association between too much TV watching and the development of health problems make watching TV excessively, undeniably a crucial health risk factor especially for children.

Thus in conclusion, television presents many dangers especially to our children, when it is enjoyed excessively, but more than just for its negative impact on social relationships within the family and the community. On a bigger scale, its detrimental impacts on society are felt through its ability to manipulate popular opinion especially when it is the dominant source of information for the populace, and its role as a risk factor for the development of disease.

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December 2016

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