Jill Student
Prof. Chiang-Schultheiss
English 100, M 11:00 a.m.
October 1, 2001

Television: the Undiscovered Drug

After a long, hard day of school and work, I trudge up the stairs to my apartment. As I approach the door, I can already hear the mumbles of the television. I open the door and am not surprised to see my sister on the couch, hand on remote, flipping through channels. I am now accustomed to this picture. My sister could be crowned couch potato queen. She watches television day and night--so much that my cousins and I now refer to her as the Human TV Guide. She knows what's on at a specific time on a specific channel. She has the channels of different stations of different areas memorized. She could tell you what channel MTV is in Torrance. She could tell you what channel USA is in Rowland Heights. She could tell you what channel TNT is in Fullerton. My sister has
memorized practically everything there is to know about television
. [DCS1] Yet, she has difficulty memorizing the multiplication table, all due to the effects of watching television endlessly. [DCS2] Television has had a detrimental [DCS3] effect on many youths[DCS4] .

Television has dulled the mind of an average youth[DCS5] . Youths today is used to having their information passed to them on a silver platter. Not as many youths like to read anymore because it involves too much work. My sister hates to read, not only because there are words involved in that activity, but also because it is now impossible for her to visualize the world presented within the book. It is also impossible for her to focus on a book because of the short attention span she has developed, and reading books just takes too much time for her. Television presents the world to her, a different world every thirty minutes, which holds her attention. This now leaves her no mental work to do, except to decide which channel she would like to watch. Because watching television requires no mental work, the brains of the adolescents that watch television are not stimulated enough. This may lead to a slower learning process, which would then explain my sister’s inability to memorize the multiplication table.

Television consumes time youths should be dedicating to more important and more essential things in their lives[DCS6] . Television takes away time that should be devoted to homework. When my sister gets home from school, she will immediately flip the television on, leaving her homework for later. When she finally decides to do her homework, the television will remain on, and she will sit on the couch with her books propped up in front of her, giving it only half of her attention. Homework takes longer to complete, and it probably will not be her best work since only half of her concentration was focused on it. Television also takes time away from quality family time. Most adolescents do not have a strong family connection. Families whose only time together is at the dinner table will waste precious quality time with their heads turned towards the television. The youth of today lose the strong morals and values they can get when spending time with their family. Television can even take away time from friends. When I spend time with my friends, I like to talk with them or go out. When my sister spends time with her friends, they spend the whole day watching the television. Their conversation revolves around what they are watching on the television. Most teens have the majority of their day devoted to the television.

Television has exposed a world of violence, drugs, and sexual immorality to our youth, causing them to be apathetic towards these issues. [DCS7] Many television shows have made at least one of the three aspects, violence, drugs, and sexual immorality, a normalcy. The Simpsons [DCS8] is a show that is enjoyed by many teens. This show depicts violence as something comedic. Regularly, in this show, the father chokes his son at least once, and the children watch a cartoon show called Itchy and Scratchy, in which a cat and mouse try to kill each other. Our youths today find this violence funny. When they encounter violence in real life, they do not consider it serious because they experience it everyday on the television. Characters in television shows such as Married with Children smoke, and although there are commercials advertising against smoking more than ever, smoking on the television gives our youths a different message. This advertises for the cigarette companies for practically free. In The Drew Carey Show, all the main characters spend their free time in a bar drinking. They even make and sell their very own beer. Cheers is another show that advocates drinking. Most of the show takes place in a bar. These characters in television shows have influence on our youth. Sexual immorality has also become common, which is exemplified by a show called Friends. Friends depicts each of their characters as people who sleep around. Sex is an integrated part of their lives and is expected when any one of the characters have a significant other. Undeclared revolves around college life in which college students have sex with each other “just for fun.” Adolescents of today model their behavior after characters like these who live in worlds of violence, drugs and sexual immorality, and they do not realize that what they are doing is wrong because to our youth, whatever they see and hear on television is right.

When television was first invented, its purpose was to bring the family together and perhaps present a way in which we could receive information faster. In modern times, the television has managed to affect our youth in ways we would not have imagined. The family gathering concept has disappeared. We have accomplished a faster way to transmit information, but it was a little too much information a little too fast for the wrong audience. Television has taken over our way of life and we must stop the effects it has had on our youths and our society before it is too late.   [DCS9] 

Instructor Comments[DCS10] . 

 [DCS1]Anecdote section: It tells a brief story to engage the reader.  Its purpose is also to prepare the reader for the essay by establishing the general subject matter: television viewing.

 [DCS2]Here is a bridge statement that leads the reader from the anecdote into the thesis.  Notice how the last phrase, “…due to the effects of watching television endlessly” narrows and focuses the subject of the essay.  Already this is a sign of a skilled writer in control of her essay.

 [DCS3]Excellent diction.  The writer could have said “negative”, but consider the power that the word “detrimental” carries.  It is a far more precise word choice than other dull, boring adjectives like “bad” or “negative”, etc.

 [DCS4]The thesis statement:  It is direct, clear, and specific.  The claim it makes is an arguable assertion.  You can tell that the essay will then explain the detrimental effect(s) television has had on youths.  The writer could have mapped out the various negative effects she thinks television has had on youths, but she chose to use a generalized thesis.  Either one will work, and neither one is particularly better than the other.

 [DCS5]Here is the writer’s first claim that is constructed in the topic sentence.  It’s not too specific and not too general.   The rest of this paragraph will use concrete examples to illustrate this claim.  It is like a mini-thesis in its own right.  You can tell it relates to the thesis statement because dulling the mind is a detrimental effect.

 [DCS6]Also a detrimental result of too much TV watching, this second claim expands the ways television has had a harmful effect on youths.  The writer is building her case.  Can you find any sentences within this paragraph that do not develop this topic sentence?  Are the examples convincing or believable?

 [DCS7] Careful readers will notice in the final topic sentence that this last detrimental effect is more severe than the first 2 sub-claims (topic sentences).  It is obvious that this writer is using ascending order of importance (see lecture notes) to convince her readers of her thesis.  If her audience had any doubts that television viewing has harmful effects, this paragraph clinches their skeptical minds.  Do you think the writer makes the connection between television viewers and TV's detrimental effects?

 [DCS8]Take a look at this title and the others that are underlined.  The writer has carefully followed the correct formatting for titles of television shows which fall into the category of major works, and they get italicized.

 [DCS9]Here is a GREAT conclusion paragraph.  It goes beyond the sophomoric summary of her points and pushes the reader to think about the larger social context of television, family, and society.  In the final sentence, it makes a call to action on behalf of the audience.  She wants us to do something.  Now the fact that she does not prescribe what we should do is not a problem.  For if she had gone into a discussion of what we could do, her essay would suddenly become un-unified.  It would digress, go off on a tangent.  Here, she is able to tightly hold together the essay without bringing up unrelated material.  A prescription for what her readers could do would be a topic for a different essay: a problem-solution essay.

 [DCS10]Overall, this is a passing essay in terms of structure and development.  It clearly meets the objectives stated in the essay assignment.  It is unified, coherent; it uses concrete examples, and it does not center on the writer herself.  The paper uses examples outside the writer, but notice that several examples are limited to the writer's sister.  And you can see that this writer knows what it means to write public discourse.  When you ask who the intended audience is, immediately you know that it is not a piece of personal writing; instead, the prose acknowledges that educated readers will likely read the piece and keeps them in mind while writing.  Notice that hardly any grammatical or mechanical errors exist.  The prose is clean, clear, and coherent.  This a passing paper.  The only developmental weakness is that the essay uses 3 sub-claims rather than 4 or more, and it looks like the “tried and true” 5-paragraph essay structure.  Nevertheless, it is a solid effort.  I would expect the student to gain confidence and graduate to writing a more complex essay next time.