All too often, watching television is branded as a “waste of time” – often by those who never really take the time to watch it themselves. What these people fail to recognise is the fact that TV brings with it a wide range of benefits, going far beyond the obvious fact of it being a practical way to relax.
Even as children, we can be positively affected by television. Kids’ TV shows are filled with messages about sharing, honesty and friendship, with favourites such as Arthur and Winnie the Pooh being created in part to familiarise even the youngest children with morality and important social skills. Further to this point, most people who grew up with a TV in their house will probably have a specific show that they associate with their childhood (for me, this was Doctor Who). This defining show is likely to have had a profound effect on both their personality and their interests, as well as providing a means of escapism during the struggles of growing up – something invaluable for many young people.
Both fictional characters and real figures still represent a source of admiration and inspiration for many adults
In addition to this, when we’re young, television is often one of the few places where we are exposed to both adults and adult relationships. It is therefore here that many children find figures to whom they look up. This idea carries through from childhood to adulthood. Both fictional characters and real figures still represent a source of admiration and inspiration for many adults, whether it’s because they want to actually become that person, or just because they want to be a bit more like them.
Another way in which both children and adults benefit from watching television, again in differing ways, is the idea of learning. Shows created for children not only teach morality, but they are also often designed to build an increased understanding of basic facts and information about the world, which aids in broadening their minds. As we age, the things we learn become more diverse and complex, as television opens our eyes to the world and the people within it. Not only that, but TV also offers original storytelling which can manage to captivate the world and encourage adults to develop an appreciation of fiction – just look at the Stranger Things phenomenon.
Another important revolution taking place in the world of television is the increased demand for and expectation of diversity and representation. Although there is still a long way to go in this area, shows such as Sense8 and Orange is the New Black are doing big things, the value of which cannot be understated, particularly for young people. Seeing a character on the silver screen to whom they relate can be a very important experience for anyone, and one that we must continue to facilitate.
Finally, and perhaps most importantly, television is inspiring. For an artist or creator (of any description or skill level), it can provide ideas for themes, topics and styles to use in their own work. For everyone else, it gives us interesting people in shows made by other interesting people – what could be more inspiring?
The next time someone tries to shame you for watching your favourite show, then, don’t let them stop you. Sure, it might not be the most productive use of time, but that doesn’t make television in any way unimportant.