If you are a regular reader of this blog, you can probably tell that I am a fan of television and it has played a big role in my family’s bonding. When I hear others proclaim that they don’t watch TV or don’t let their kids watch TV, as if it is just junk food for the mind, I realize that they have no idea what quality television is and the benefits it can have. Even bad television has its benefits.
1. Intelligence – Complex TV series such as Lost, Heroes and Battlestar Galactica require a great deal of thinking to understand what is happening. In fact, this was the argument of author Steve Johnson in his book Everything Bad is Good for You: How today’s popular culture is actually making us smarter. See also 8 TV Shows That Make You Smarter.
2. Learn about different people and places – While nothing beats actual travel for this type of learning, most people are limited in the amount of travel they can do. TV opens up the world, whether through watching documentaries, or drama series with multicultural characters.
3. Water Cooler effect – TV can often give office mates with little in common, something to talk about. This is especially so with series that lend themselves to discussion such as American Idol, Lost or major events such as the finale of The Sopranos.
4. Laughter – Laughing is good for us. As the saying goes, laughter is the best medicine. It has been found to increase circulation, lower blood pressure and more. Watching a good comedy on TV can be a great way to find something to laugh about.
5. How-To – With cable channels such as HGTV and the Food Network, you can actually learn how to do almost anything to or for your home.
6. Excitement – Contest shows such as American Idol, Survivor and The Amazing Race give you the fun and excitement of having favorites and rooting for a winner. The benefits of sports for non-sports watchers.
7. Educational and Informative – With cable channels such as Discover, National Geographic and the History Channels, watching TV can be as educational as going to school. Plus, how many times have you learned something while watching a regular TV series? If it weren’t for all the police and lawyer shows on TV, would anybody other than lawyers know what Miranda rights were?
9. Makes exercise easier – When doing a stationary exercise like a treadmill, it can get very boring. Reading is difficult because of the movement. Music helps but doesn’t give you anything to look at. There must be a reason why there are televisions in most gyms.
10. Gives families something to bond over – my favorite reason. From the time that I watched Sesame Street and Mr. Rogers with my kids to the current day when we spend hours talking about Lost, Chuck, The Big Bang Theory, Heroes and The Office, television has led to some great conversations. Often, talking about something that occurred in a TV show will lead to discussions of real life situations. If that isn’t a benefit, I don’t know what is.
Can you think of any other benefits of watching television that belong in the top 10? If you don’t think any good comes from watching TV, please comment about that also. I’d love to hear all opinions.
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