30 Minutes Later are you Smarter?

Topics: Reality television, Television, Television program Pages: 5 (2014 words) Published: January 23, 2014

Thirty Minutes Later:  Are You Smarter Yet?
Each and every night millions upon millions of people turn on their televisions and tune in to their favorite programs.  Most people think that this behavior is perfectly normal and that nothing is either exceptionally good or detrimentally bad about doing so.  Others actually think that watching television can and sometimes does make you smarter.  I feel that the general statement “tv makes you smarter” is not specific enough when talking about such an issue.  I think that some television programs can help you gain some knowledge but I do not believe that all television makes you smarter.  So, does watching television make you smarter, dumber, or does it have no affect at all?     In Steven Johnson’s essay “Watching TV Makes You Smarter” he argues that watching television “alters the mental development of young people for the better (291)”.  Meaning that when young people watch television it can aide in the development of their minds.  In a nutshell, he is saying that watching television can actually make a person smarter.  In his essay, Johnson uses the popular show 24 to support his claim.  He states that “to make sense of an episode of 24 you have to pay attention, make inferences, and track social relationships”(279).  Johnson refers to this as part of what he calls the Sleeper Curve.  Johnson believes that the Sleeper Curve is the single most important new force altering the mental development of young people today, and it is largely a force for good”(279).  He agrees that the media may indeed contain more negative messages but he doesn't think that is the only way to evaluate whether our television shows are having a positive impact or not.  In one part of his essay, Johnson compares the intellectual strain of watching shows like Frasier, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show to the physical strain of watching Monday Night Football.  With that comparison he is basically saying that the viewer doesn't have to think about the content of the show in order to follow the storyline the same way a person doesn't have to actually play football in order to enjoy a game.  Throughout his essay, Johnson even goes as far as to say that even “bad” television has gotten better.   To validate this point he talks about Joe Millionaire and The Apprentice.  He discusses how in order how in order to win the show contestants had to overcome certain obstacles, figure out “weak spots” in the game, and use everything they learned to complete the last challenge which usually contained a twist.  This goes to say that on the surface it may seem like these shows are easy to follow but they contain surprises that may interrupt what the viewer thought was going to happen.  Johnson states that “traditional narrative also trigger emotional connections to the characters” (291).  He explains this by talking about the largely popular show Survivor, and how because our emotions are involved it becomes easy to vote someone off the island as opposed to someone else.     I think that only certain types of television shows makes you smarter, so part of me agrees with Steven Johnson’s argument.  I think that people can learn things from certain kinds of shows.  When a person watches show on the Food Network, the person will most likely learn how to prepare a new dish, or improve upon a technique that they are having trouble with.  Another example would be when children watch “Dora the Explorer”.  Some people might only see a show like this as way to keep children quiet and occupied.  What they would realize if they actually sat down and watched an episode or two is that children can earn many things like; shapes, colors, numbers, letters and even some Spanish, all within the thirty minute runtime of the show.  There may be some sitcoms or reality shows out there that you can learn from but I have yet to find one that I learned a lesson from.  The reason I don't fully agree with his argument that television makes you...
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