Television was one of the most significant inventions of the 20th century and its effects were widespread and deep. It changed the way we thought and acted. It gave us, through advertising, new desires and wants, opened up windows to new worlds that few had seen before, educated us, entertained us, made us passive observers in the evenings instead of active participants, fed us large amounts of crapola, diced up our attention spans, increased the power of the media, reduced politics to two minute sound bites and popularity polls, made us unsavoury voyeurs to other people's discomort...but apart from all that, was it harmful?
The first baby-boomer TV generations are now in their 50s and 60's..which should be plenty of time to judge whether or not they turned out ok. Did all those hours of watching The Patty Duke Show and reruns of Gilligan's Island rot their brains? Well according to resentful Generation X, baby-boomers are the most self-obsessed, greedy, I want-I need group on the planet. If it's true, is TV at least partly to blame? Would they have been better people if they'd read books, played games, talked and sang songs around the piano at night instead of watching the The Love Boat? Who knows....
Ironically, that same TV generation now worries about the brain rotting effects of computer games and mobiles on their own children and grandchildren. Ah, it seems technology is just a worry, full stop.
Kids today may not even have the concentration span to passively watch TV for too long, as their minds are used to darting around a computer screen and can't easily follow a linear train of thought. According to neurologist Susan Greenield, a new generation of children are having their brains rewired by technology: The Plastic Brain