Statistics indicate that Americans spend about a third of free time watching television (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). For the case of teenagers, the aspect of watching television and sleeping consume significant amounts of time. In fact, the American teens spend a near 20-hour duration in each week watching television. However, most of the heaviest viewers emanate from low-income households (Vandewater, Shim &Caplovitz, 2004). According to Jordan and Robinson (2008), most of the children in America enter the world of television before joining school. Approximately two-thirds of preschoolers watch television for an estimated period of two hours per day while eight to eighteen-year-olds spend about four hours watching television and two more hours on the computer. The latter hours may also account for playing video games (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). The eventuality is that, watching television for a substantial period poses adverse effects on the health of the American population. Moreover, there is an undesirable association between the behaviors and attitudes of American youths and, the advertising practice. This essay seeks to establish a causal analysis of the adverse effects of television on the health of Americans and, the existent negative correlation between advertising and the youth’s attitudes and behaviors in America.
Television versus Health in America
Brain growth takes place in the first two years of life. However, the role of television and related electronic media remains significant in the interaction, exploration and playing with parents (Vandewater, Shim & Caplovitz, 2004). Whereas the aspects of playing, exploring and interacting with parents play crucial roles towards social development, healthy physical development and learning, the television yields negative effects on the health of viewers such as the youths in America (Jordan & Robinson, 2008). On one hand, children get older with the continued existence. Then again, spending significant amounts of time on television interferes with activities that entail physical activity, doing homework, interacting with family members, playing with friends, and reading (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). Whereas previous years such as the 1990’s experienced fewer cases of television watching, attributed to fewer people owning televisions and little interest in television programs, the period after 2000 attributes for high cases of obesity. The latter scenario arises from increased interest in television viewing and, an increasing number of people who own televisions (Vandewater, Shim & Caplovitz, 2004). Imperatively, “television viewing, in particular, leads to increased caloric intake either from eating during viewing or as a result of food advertising on television, which tends to emphasize high-calorie, high-fat foods with poor nutritional content” (Vandewater, Shim & Caplovitz, 2004: 72). The following image represents the relationship between television and the nature of health, with special reference to America.
In reference to the above image, a high likelihood exists regarding becoming obese among children who spend more than four hours watching television, with daily consistencies (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). The obese cases arise from the fact that televisions minimize time for interacting, playing with peers and doing homework, besides other physical activities. Jordan and Robinson (2008) affirm that when the youths view violent acts, they may exhibit aggressiveness, yet fear the “scary” nature of the world, predicting bad events in life. In fact, television watching in America accounts for high cases of obesity and, aggressive behaviors among the youths (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). “Crucially, the balance of literature suggests that the association between television viewing and obesity remains significant even when potential confounding variables such as socioeconomic status, familial tendency to overweight are taken into account” (Hancox & Poulton, 2006: 2).
Advertisement versus the Youth Culture in America
Advertisements involve sexual content and social development. “…television viewing and/or video game use is thought to be related to increased weight in children because time spent with these media displaces physical activity” (Vandewater, Shim & Caplovitz, 2004: 72). According to Hancox and Poulton (2006), two out of three television shows entail content on sex. The trend is depictive of increased content in which the 1997/1998 television season witnessed a near half of all the television shows (Jordan & Robinson, 2008). It is also essential to accentuate the fact that strong implications or depictions of sexual intercourse occur in one out of every ten television shows (Vandewater, Shim &Caplovitz, 2004). The television content on sexual intercourse results in mixed outcomes. On one hand, the content yields positive outcomes by educating the American youths about the possible responsibilities or risks associated with sex. The positivity extends to entail knowledge sensitization regarding STDs or pregnancy (Hancox & Poulton, 2006). On the other hand, television content regarding sex incorporates responsibilities about sexual activity, aspects that lead to increased cases of premature sex among American youths. Therefore, a negative correlation exists between advertising and the attitudes, and, behaviors of youths in America in the sense that, with increased advertisements regarding the need to live responsibly, negative effects such as sexual activities result — rather than positive outcomes such as abstinence (Hancox & Poulton, 2006).
From the above images, “TV viewing in childhood is a predictor of poor fitness, smoking,
and raised cholesterol. Furthermore, TV viewing provides a context that encourages frequent snacking or overeating while marketing and advertising of high fat, high sugar foods to children during TV viewing is significant” (Hancox & Poulton, 2006: 9).
In conclusion, the role of television and advertising on the respective health, behavior and attitude of the viewers remains significant in America. In particular, television and cases of obesity pose a positive correlation while a negative correlation exists between advertising and behavior alignments such as sexual activities among the youths in America. Americans recognize commodities as items on demand, desired products, and mass-produced goods at first glance. The perception poses little chances of raising moral or ethical issues. However, upon establishing a broad definition that incorporates the human body (arising from the fact about coexisting in the world of prevalent advertisement and pornography), the televisions and advertisements alter the behaviors and attitudes America’s youth population.
- Hancox, R. J. & Poulton, R. Watching television is associated with childhood obesity: but is it clinically important? Int J Obes (Lond), 2006, 30(1):171–175.
- Vandewater, E. A., Shim, M. S. & Caplovitz, A. G. Linking obesity and activity level with children’s television and video game use, J Adolescent, 2004, 27(1):71–85
- Jordan, A. B. & Robinson, T. N. Children, television viewing, and weight status: summary and recommendations from an expert panel meeting, Ann Am Acad Pol Soc Sci.2008, 615(1):119–132.