Television is one of the greatest achievements of the 20-th century. It is the most popular part of mass media. Today every family has a TV-set. TV has changed much since the time of its invention and so has its role. There have been numerous debates concerning advantages and disadvantages of television.

When TV first appeared its main purpose was to give official information to people. It was supported by the government. Now television plays a big role in every civilized society. Today television gives people a possibility to be well informed and enjoy «civilized pleasures.» The programmes are various and people have a chance to select what they want to see. Television provides great opportunities for education. There are programmes devoted to specialized subjects. With the help of TV it is possible to learn foreign languages, to know a lot of wonderful things concerning the world flora and fauna. TV teaches the ideals of democracy and political argument.

But in its current state, TV produces more problems than it offers blessings. TV captivates and transfixes us. So we are watching not for the content, but for the contrast, change, and captivating swirl of images. That is the danger. We may decide to catch a one-hour educational program, but find ourselves immobilized by TV’s power and end up «watching» longer than we originally planned. The behavior of many viewers supports the claim that we watch TV because of its power rather than for its content. The behavior I’m referring to is eating food and drinking beer while watching TV. What has this behaviour got to do with the reason we watch TV? Well, we don’t eat potato chips and drink beer while you’re reading a book, do we? So, why is it done while watching TV? The answer is because TV is boring, and snacking helps to while the time away. By the way, according to a 1989 study by Larry Tucker at Brigham Young University, «Men who watch television three or more hours a day are twice as likely to be fat than men who watch for less than an hour.»

TV also decreases one’s attention and weakens one’s imagination. It weakens our attention because we grow used to quick, short bursts of information. As a result, we grow impatient. TV weakens our imagination because everything is portrayed for us. All we have to do is sit back and observe someone else’s imagination. Books are just the opposite. They increase our attention and help to develop our imagination. We need to be more like Groucho Marx (1895 ~ 1977) who said, «I find television very educational. Every time someone switches it on I go into another room and read a good book.»

A 20-year-old man who watches TV three hours a day until the age of 70 could have extended his life six and a quarter years merely by turning off the TV. Shutting it off not only gets you to live longer, but to live better.

As for me, I watch TV very rarely because the Internet substitutes for it. I know that sitting in front of the computer is no less harmful than in front of the TV screen but with the help of the Internet I can find any information to my taste!