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What viewers can do to help arrest TV’s downward spiral

Our recent column on TV’s “dumbing down” effect has apparently disturbed some TV people, who feel that it was “too harsh.”

On the other hand, we also got reactions from readers who agreed—and, more than that, wanted to know what they could do to help arrest the downward spiral. Our follow-up thoughts on the subject:

Viewers can do a lot to alleviate and improve the problematic situation. After all, we’re part of the reason TV’s “dumbing down” move is effective.

If we didn’t support its “least common denominator” programming gambit, it wouldn’t be so prevalent—and successful.

So, improvement can come only if we choose our attitude regarding that “electronic window and mirror” in our living room.

No, it isn’t just a harmlessly diverting source of information and entertainment. It affects, influences and changes us in subtly significant ways, often without our being aware that we’re being manipulated, misinformed and miseducated.

So, the first big change we can make is to become more aware of the fact that, when we and especially our young children watch TV, “something” is always going on—and some of its effects could be direly negative.

Thus, we should choose the programs we watch, and evaluate their quality, content and ethical value.

If some shows fail that key test, we should make sure that our vulnerable children are “defended” from them.

If a show is particularly objectionable, we shouldn’t keep our negative opinion to ourselves but, for the psychological and ethical health of our community, we should use the traditional and new media to share our opinion, and spread the cautionary word.

On the other hand, if we find a show particularly good and view-worthy, we should also use the media to let people know about it, so that it gets the increased viewership it deserves.

The point is, we can no longer just “take or leave” the TV sets in our homes. Its good shows are

allies, but its bad programs are foes that shouldn’t be invited into our homes.

We know that this takes extra time and attention, but our vulnerable children’s minds, hearts and psyches are too valuable to be left “undefended” from the excesses, deficiencies and effluences of bad and thus inimical television.

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