Don’t believe what they say: TV can be good for you

“You are what you watch,” according to the Times, and that can be a good thing.


Sarabeth Wester

An artistic representation of the contemplation of the effect of TV by Sarabeth Wester.

Laila Yavalar, Staff Writer

Forget what your parents say: TV may actually be good for you. TV can motivate, provide entertainment, introduce you to new perspectives, excite you, and teach you important life lessons. 

According to the New York Times, “Other than sleeping and working, Americans are more likely to watch television than engage in any other activity.”

According to traditional thinking, TV is bad— it rots your brain, stirs up bed ideas, and wastes your time, as many parents might say. 

But put in a different light, one finds that movies and shows aren’t all that bad for you.  They may even be GOOD for you.

In many cases, shows aren’t made to influence viewers into copying what characters do, but to teach viewers so they won’t have to firsthand experience it themselves.

— The Author

In my opinion, TV has just enough positive effects, like perspective and joy, to overcome the negative ones (think things like the influence of violence and drugs). When it comes down to it, the positive outweighs the negative. 

In fact, speaking of perspectives, television is one of the most uniting forms of entertainment that we have. TV can unite individuals who may never come face to face with one another.  It can unite us politically, culturally, and geographically by illustrating the perspective of characters that are of different races, genders, countries, facing different troubles and experiences. 

An example is Euphoria, which is a show that was heavily critiqued for demonstrating the struggles of teen addiction. Another show example is Black Mirror which illustrates a variety of social issues. With these perspectives being shown to a wide spectrum of viewers, the viewer can relate and understand the problems and social issues other people face. 

TV shows, particularly the new “series” style programs, follow a character through their journey.  They show the problems that individuals face over a long span of time in order to relate to the viewer and form a connection. 

Television can also influence its viewers and shapes their ways of thinking. In the article “You are what you watch” from The New York Times, the author says, “A wave of new social science research shows that the quality of shows can influence us in important ways, shaping our thinking and political preferences, even affecting our cognitive ability.” 

Film and television can introduce new ways of thinking and understanding by presenting different perspectives, therefore increasing open mindedness. Instead of focusing on all these inappropriate scenes on TV, recognize how these are prime examples of things people face and how you can learn from these shows. 

An example of learning from a series can be seen in Atypical, a show on Netflix. Atypical focuses on the life of an autistic teenager struggling through high school.   The show goes on to illustrate the theme that “no one is normal.” This theme can be comforting to younger viewers who struggle with self-confidence and have trouble expressing themselves by being able to relate to someone who represents their struggles.

Of course, many will say that TV shows that illustrate violence and drug use often can set a bad example to young and developing minds. There are some popular, controversial shows that show dangerous and illegal activities, such as Euphoria. But that isn’t actually the truth about many shows, including Euphoria. Ansley Morris wrote an article in 2022 that goes into more depth on why Euphoria isn’t as bad as it is deemed by parents or adults: ‘Euphoria’ isn’t as far from reality as we think.

The New York Times goes on to explain how shows like Euphoria illustrate such topics that are not intended to be glorified: “The show [Euphoria] has important implications when it comes to increasing awareness and empathy for addiction, mental health, sexuality and relationships. It encourages important conversations and self-reflection.” 

In many cases, films and other amusements, such as reading, that depict dangerous and illegal activities, aren’t made to influence their viewers into copying what the characters do, but instead, to teach the viewers a lesson so that they won’t have to firsthand experience it themselves. 

Along with this, watching television and movies has been commonly referred to by older generations as something that is lazy or distracting, which can be true, but not always. Certain shows that display positive and realistic role models can positively influence the viewers while providing entertainment. A few examples can be shows such as Greys Anatomy or Dynasty, which follow hard working characters who work towards success and are positive role models. Shows that illustrate hard work or success typically motivate their viewers into wanting to better themselves and similarly work hard as well. 

According to Mirror,“Watching others work hard will not only encourage you to work to avoid being shamed by a person who doesn’t actually exist, it’ll get you into the right mindset of being in a work-based environment all the time, even when you’re relaxing.” 

Shows that illustrate academic success or wealth and work in general, can motivate viewers to want to push themselves more without the feeling of shame or comparison. 

Essentially, television shows have been perceived as dangerous or unhealthy with the showcase of violence, drugs, and more, by individuals such as parents, teachers, etc. But In reality, TV can actually be good for you in ways of influencing new perspectives, motivation for success, and more.