Freedom of the mind

   It has often been said plaintively, that children spend too much time watching television regarding it as an element that jeopardizes or at least makes more difficult the work of educators. Surveys confirm that assertion, but it would be unfair to say that children are the culprits of this situation. In any case, they are victims of living environment, in which the television set occupies a special place not only in the family room, but, once it is on, it attracks the attention of the entire family. In this way the private sphere of the family, is invaded within the four walls of the house by a gang of “time suckers” aggressors who have not received a specific invitation to sit at our table.

   Statistics show that everywhere half of household have more than one television set, and that almost one third of the kids have TV in their room; so young people can choose whatever they want to see. These data can be interpreted as if those complaints are not followed by corrective measures. Thus, it is doubtful that television has any educational value. When pictures and images are received without prior selection, how can a child distinguish between fantasy and reality? In addition, the proliferation of devices —to which must be added the computer, video games or Internet— contributes to family isolation of parents and children: no longer something that the family watch together, but something for each individual member of the family to see; thus hindering or even preventing the educational role of parents. Besides, there is a lack of critical education concerning Television; education that would enable us to assess what we should really see, and how much time to spend on it.

   The purpose and aim of all or at least most television Channels is profit and this is the main fact that determines all the programming of a TV Channel … along with ideological messages. Multitude of stations and networks -local, national, regional, municipal, legal or submerged- compete in a saturated market. Is it possible that almost 24 hours of broadcasting attain acceptable quality? The lack of imagination is obvious: some are copied from others, the same background laughter in comedy, and the same corny jokes, the same video, the same prerecorded applause; glamorous presenters of children’s programs; sly or overt sex; tearful exploitation of privacy, resulting in embarrassing and shameful scenes. All this, rooting for dubious characters, fueled by writers and directors who will offer more of the same tomorrow; with a great number of programs showing the same intrinsic low quality.

   Education and Culture are two of the main essential objectives of a modern society. Television is a clear element of cultural influence, which can certainly have many positive effects, but this should not prevent us from seeing its negative side. This insight is the job of parents. Turning off the TV is already a revolutionary act, almost subversive, which may have unpredictable effects: a peaceful and cultural revolution, provided the rescued hours of television are then devoted to reading, to friendly conversation, to the knowledge of Nature. Turning off the TV is thus an opportunity to escape the intoxicating control that television and its people have on our lives. It is a first step in the search for freedom of the mind; which is the only way to real Freedom.
   Agustín PÉREZ CERRADA

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