Monthly Archives: March 2016

The word 'television' has its roots in the Latin and Greek languages. The word is derived from the Greek word 'tele', which translates as 'far sight' and the Latin word 'visio', which means 'sight'. The invention made it to commercial markets in the late 1930s. Today, television is the most popular form of audio-visual communication in homes and commercial set-ups. The mere mention of the word 'TV', brings to mind a medium that helps us to keep abreast with current affairs and entertainment. The television set is no more a single communications unit. It has evolved in design complexity to broadcast recorded material stored in video cassettes, DVDs, laser discs, and Blu-ray discs.

Television: An Account of its History

The history of television spans over regions and time zones, since the technology evolved at different times in different places. The communication system, as we know it today, is not the brainstorm of any 'one' particular inventor. It has taken the efforts of many engineers, over many decades, to progress along different overlapping designs, to employ commonly accepted mechanical and electronic principles. Even though the electromechanical television sets are now being abandoned in favor of the ultra-modern, completely electronic designs, the basic design rests on the 1873 discovery of selenium photo-conductivity. This discovery made by Willoughby Smith led to the Paul Gottlieb Nipkow invention of a scanning disk, in 1884. Thereafter, in 1926, when John Logie Baird demonstrated televised moving images, the technology was combined with the image dissector designed by Philo Farnsworth, in 1927, to give us the basic principles of the communication device we know today.

These basics were experimented upon in different countries, by different people. However, the earliest records were those maintained and publicized by Nipkow, a 20-year old German student. In 1884, he became the first to propose and patent an electromechanical television system. The discovery of selenium photo-conductivity and Nipkow's scanning disk technology were first combined to produce an electronic transmission in the early 20th century. Thereafter, still pictures composed of spaced dots were a regular feature. Development of the amplification tube technology is credited to Lee DeForest and Arthur Korn. Between 1907 and 1909, the first demonstration of instantaneous transmission by Georges Rignoux and A. Fournier, using the rotating mirror-drum and a 64 selenium matrix, added another chapter to the Information and Communication Revolution.

The first development of sound backed pictures came in 1911, when Boris Rosing and Vladimir Kozmich Zworykin used the mechanical mirror-drum scanner to transmit sound through a Braun or cathode ray tube. Thought the sensitivity was not enough, it was a modest beginning to a revolution in television history. John Logie Baird, the Scottish inventor who first televised moving images, demonstrated silhouette motion-images in 1925. In the same year, the team at AT&T's Bell Telephone Laboratories was successful in transmitting halftone still images, while the genius of Charles Francis Jenkins experimented with the lensed disk scanner technology, to produce images at the rate of 16 pictures per second. However, the modern definition of technology as 'live transmission of moving images with tonal variation', makes it imperative to credit Baird with the achievement. He gave the world the first demonstration of a working television system on 26th January, 1926. The vertically scanned images were a result of an application that derived functionality from a scanning disk and double spiral of lenses. Thus began our romance with a communication device, that continues to evolve in components and public service efficiency.

Television, the scientific invention that revolutionized the world of communication, has now become a debatable issue for its alleged role in influencing child behavior and psychology. Nowadays, children discover the world of television at a very tender age. According to some studies, children under the age of 6 years watch television, video or DVD, daily for 2 hours on an average. In many instances, television can be effective, especially the educational and wildlife programs to broaden your child's knowledge and understanding about the world around him/her. It can also introduce them to different cultures and communities of the world. However, presently its negative effects seem to outweigh the positive ones.

Can Television Negatively Influence Children?

✔ The early stage of life, especially the first 2 - 3 years, are crucial for the mental development of your child. This is the age in which children learn through playing, observing, interacting, and exploring new things.

✔ Therefore, these few years are very significant for the mental and physical development. So, a habit of excessive television watching can hamper their normal physical and social activities, like playing with friends, reading, and spending quality time with family.

✔ Many television programs depict excessive violence, which can induce a lot of behavioral changes in young children. As children can easily relate to what is shown on television, they are more likely to imitate such behavior. So, such programs may induce aggressive behavior and thoughts in children.

✔ It can also cause nightmares and sleep disorders in young children by stimulating a sense of fear and anxiety. Besides this, it may create a confusion in the young minds regarding what is good or bad. This is because parents may teach their children that violence and aggression is bad, while on the other hand, the television programs may show the 'good guys' or the heroes as the perpetrators of violence.

✔ In addition to these, violence, smoking, and drinking scenes are widely depicted on television programs and commercials, without explaining the adverse consequences. The continuous and repeated exposure to such programs makes them feel that these activities are normal and quite acceptable. Therefore, children who watch these scenes regularly are more likely to imitate and develop such unhealthy habits at an early age.

✔ Obesity is a common problem in the developed world, and television is one of the important factors responsible for the growing trend of obesity among children. Excessive television watching reduces physical activities of the children, and at the same time, increases the popularity of junk foods, like snacks, soft drinks, and potato chips among them through commercials. So, together they are the major contributory factors for obesity among children.

✔ The attractive advertisements or commercials also immensely influence children. Children do not understand that the main motive behind these commercials is to sell products, irrespective of their importance and necessity.

✔ The appealing advertisements lure them to a range of products, both necessary and unnecessary. Besides these, television can also lead to poor academic performances by discouraging the habit of reading. Many believe that television watching can be an important cause of attention deficit disorder among children.

Therefore, moderation is quite important to ensure that the television is used as a source of healthy entertainment and for enhancing knowledge. So, it is better to set a time limit for watching television. Children should be encouraged to participate in activities, like playing games and reading books. Before allowing them to watch television programs, the parents should take into account the program's reviews and television ratings. They should be encouraged to watch programs that reinforce family values. As parents are the role models for their children, it is equally important for them to limit their own television watching to set an example for them.