General Question

ubersiren's avatar

How much do you think TV has added or subtracted from your knowledge?

Asked by ubersiren (15160points) May 18th, 2009

Have you learned just as much from educational TV programming (such as The Discovery Channel or PBS) as you would have from books—- either as a child or an adult? Or has it taken away from your time with books? Would you be more or less informed if you had no TV? Or if you never had a TV, do you think you would’ve benefited from it?

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45 Answers

ccbatx's avatar

I’ve learned a bit from television, but not much. It hasn’t subtracted anything from my knowledge though. Like I haven’t forgotten anything because of tv.

Ivan's avatar

I’ve learned more from TV than from probably any other medium.

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

It’s another source of information. It really depends on what you watch. If you’re only interested in Jon & Kate +8 then yes, TV might just be making you dumber.

Dansedescygnes's avatar

I think I learn more from the internet than anything. But I enjoy documentaries, especially things on Discovery Channel, A&E, and various other channels. I do feel that I learn plenty from those shows; I’m always looking for new things to learn. In terms of books, I think the internet has taken away from that largely, but I read informational books sometimes. (When I was little, I read a lot of educational books for fun; that was really before I knew about the internet). But I mean that to say that the internet is my new source of information; it isn’t all just YouTube and Facebook. Sometimes I’ll just find myself randomly reading about interesting topics on Wikipedia. Plus, I consider spending time on sites like these to be educational and enriching.

I don’t really think it has subtracted from my knowledge. I mean, sure, plenty of the TV I watch (like The Simpsons and Lost) are just for fun, but I really tend to not believe that it makes you dumber single-handedly. As for taking time away from books or whatever, I don’t think I would’ve been doing that in place of TV since I really don’t watch that much TV.

Facade's avatar

I was brought up with constant stimulation from television. I don’t think it has influenced me either way.

oratio's avatar

I haven’t had tv in many years, but I download documentaries now and then. I would say I learn from them, combined with the net where I find most of what I search for, and more. But tv as a medium, no. I don’t need a tv for anything.

bea2345's avatar

I was in my late teens when I saw television for the first time, back in 1962. I grew up in a family where reading was actively encouraged by our parents. Television broadened my outlook, and indeed is an important source of local, current information and news. But books are still my main resource for learning, entertainment and relaxation. perhaps there is a case for banning all TV viewing until one has reached one’s majority:)

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

Added but I’m not patient enough to sit and wait for particular shows I like to come on or to sit through commercials so I stopped watching TV and canceled cable a few years back. Now there are some shows I can watch on my computer, on my own time schedule which is great.

drClaw's avatar

Discovery Channel +2 brain points.

Cartoon Network -2 brain points.

I’m about break even.

RedPowerLady's avatar

I enjoy TV as a method of relaxation and detachment from typical life.
I do not view it as a source of learning. I can see how some educational channels and some news could be educational but I prefer less media-driven sources of information.
Additionally I do believe that having the ability to watch TV as a method of relaxation has rotted my brain a bit :).

Blondesjon's avatar

@Ivanthat explains a lot

Fred931's avatar

It taught me a lot, including why I should buy everything I don’t need.

Supacase's avatar

I have learned a lot from TV, but I think it has also replaced reading as my main form of relaxation now that my life is busier. I don’t think that is good at all.

I know how much my life has changed since the internet came along. I learn a lot on here, but I have a hard time getting away from it. I think television must have been similar and maybe never having known either of them might not be such a bad thing. I wouldn’t want to do without either of them now, though.

tabbycat's avatar

I’ve certainly learned some things from TV—especially some of the PBS documentaries, but I’ve learned far less from this medium than I have learned from books, college classes, and the internet. I’ve probably learned about as much from TV as I have from newspapers and news magazines. In recent years, I have also learned from audiobooks and podcasts.

I like the fact that we have so many diverse media available to us today.

Ivan's avatar


It probably does, but I don’t think that comment was as offensive as you wanted it to be.

Blondesjon's avatar

@IvanI was shooting for just a teensy bit offensive.

Bluefreedom's avatar

Much of my television watching nowadays consists of programs such as Biography, TLC, Discovery, A&E, PBS, and other like programs so I can safely say that this material has added to my knowledge.

kenmc's avatar

It’s added to my knowledge of all sorts of things… Even things I didn’t want to know.

It’s subtracted from my ability to sense the real world, in that (along with most everyone) I sometimes assume that reality will follow the path of a television show.

But in reality, the bad guy wins… a lot.

ubersiren's avatar

@boots : That’s very true.

wundayatta's avatar

Hmm. The other day, my 9 yr-old son was asking me about black holes and dark matter, and what happens inside of black holes. After explaining as much as I could, I asked him what prompted him to ask about these things.


* Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

El_Cadejo's avatar

I think ive learned quite a bit from TV. I dont watch it often but whenever i do, i watch History, Discovery, Animal Planet, Science Channel or Food Network so im always learning something new.

justwannaknow's avatar

Like any thing else it can go both ways but for me I have learned very much. There were subjects on tv that I would not have considered reading about but found they were very interesting. There is a whole world out there I do not know about but I am learning.

AstroChuck's avatar

I don’t see how it has subtracted anything from me. In fact, because of television my knowledge concerning sponges, starfish, squids, crabs, plankton, and aquatic squirrels has immensely improved.

DarkScribe's avatar

If it wasn’t for Gilligan’s Island when I was a kid, I might not have discovered cleavage for another six months or so.

wundayatta's avatar

Oh man! The cleavage I saw on this beautiful woman sitting at the sign-in table in the voting place this morning! I could barely keep my mind on topic! Sigh.

CMaz's avatar

When you had just a few station. You could sort between the good and the bad. With so much to choose from these days. It seems to just have a brain numbing effect. Finding yourself trying to capture too much information (always channel surfing) and not spending that time getting out and enjoying real life. TV use to be a treat, now it has become a way of life. And most of it is junk.

hitomi's avatar

My television spends a lot of time on the history channel and it’s amazing what you retain even when the documentaries are just background noise while you are doing something else.

I also think that even “stupid” tv is good for you in small doses. Just like I think reading crap fiction is occasionally good for your brain. You can’t be learning and reading deep and meaningful things all the time…you’ll burn up…and even stupid cartoons can give you new ways to think and improve your imagination if handled properly….

aprilsimnel's avatar

I’ve gotten more academic-type knowledge from books. Someone like Mister Rogers, though, you can’t get from a book. In retrospect, I’m glad he was on TV. I wish there were a couple more people out there like him. He got into TV because he hated TV and wanted to make it better. This is one time I’ll insist that if you click on the link, please watch all of it, please. It’s that moving. Thank you.

TV is like anything else, neither good nor bad, but thinking makes it so.

Jack_Haas's avatar

A lot, and not always directly: I couldn’t count the times when some random fact I learnt from a dumb sitcom led to an interesting conversation at a dinner party in which I learnt more things.

ubersiren's avatar

@Jack_Haas : That’s a great point that I should’ve added in my question. It’s not just educational shows that provide you with knowledge. I can name a handful of useful information that I learned from sitcoms. :o)

@aprilsimnel: What a fantastic clip! I love his voice.

Jack_Haas's avatar

@ubersiren I read a thesis about… soap operas, a long time ago. The author had absorbed hundreds of hours of soaps from the US, Europe, telenovelas from Latin America, and found out that these programs contained an enormous amount of cultural knowledge. I don’t remember the details (it was in the 90s) but basically, soap writers knew that they couldn’t hold viewers interest for a half hour everyday based on romance alone so they spent a good deal of time researching informative topics to make their program more substantive. Who would have thought!

Actually, it made me realize that a homemaker from podunk, Florida who’s never traveled outside of her county, can be more knowledgeable about the world than some well read, well traveled people I’ve met. People’s ability to learn depends on their source of information but also on their ability to provess, store and analyse that information.

arturodiaz's avatar

most of my knowledge come from books, internet and school now. But was a kid I used to watch discovery and history channel all time

MooKoo's avatar

As far as what I have learned from educational programming goes, quite a bit. The History Channel and the Discovery Channel are two of my favorite television stations, and I do learn quite a bit from them both. I wouldn’t say I’ve learned more from them, than I have from books, but they have definitely added lots of information to my knowledge banks.

Strauss's avatar

My TV also spends a lot of time on Discovery, History, as well as the Food Network, the Green Channel and other informational channels. I do like to be entertained, and it seems lateley I’ve become a fan of all the initials, the CSI’s the Law & Orders, and NCIS. but even before the era of “3000 channels and nothing on” we would be watching the wildlife documentaries, as well as PBS and its predecessors.

derekpaperscissors's avatar

I grew up in front of the tube. My mom locked it in a closet though during school days when i was young. But i managed to pick the lock eventually when she wasn’t around.
I don’t think it was that bad, stuff in Nat Geo and Discovery added a lot of information about the world and science. Cartoon channels made me appreciate art and dreaming of becoming heroes and saviours. Music channels got me into music. And movies made me love fiction, and were like my bedtime stories. TV makes you pop culture smart so you’ll have something to talk about with your friends, at least when you were younger.
Later on, I watched less and less as school got a bit more challenging, and friends and night outs replaced sitting in front of the TV.
Then, the internet blossomed…

Hobosnake's avatar

I’m shooting for (and very well may get) valedictorian at my private high school, and I almost never watch TV at home (and rarely at friends houses). Go figure?

Ivan's avatar


I was at a similar level in high school, have maintained a 4.0 GPA in college, and I watch several hours of TV daily. ::shrug::

CMaz's avatar

TV is nothing more than a brain slug.

Ivan's avatar


“TV is nothing more than a brain slug.”

aprilsimnel's avatar

But TV is a tool, not an entity, just like any other tool, including money. You have the power, not TV.

flutherother's avatar

Television is primarily entertainment and I find the over enthusiatic superficial style of some presenters intensely annoying. You can pick up interesting information from television but I prefer books.

CMaz's avatar

Cigarettes and alcohol are also tools. Until you develop an addiction to them.
THAT, is where the money is. Kid yourself otherwise. Or you would be drinking juice or soda on a Friday night.

The covert nature of TV makes for good and easy addiction.
Through the eyes, into the ears is just a efficient as up the nose, down the throat, or in a vain.

“Either up your nose or through your vein
With nothin to gain except killin’ your brain.”

Hobosnake's avatar

The internet makes you smarter. But not certain areas like lolcats, failblog, or comments on pretty much any site (I was recently frustrated by the evident lack of mental capacity in both the article and the comments following it regarding a major scientific event. Yeah, things like that aren’t going to make you smarter. But if you aren’t an idiot to begin with, you may find the more worthwhile content therein. Same goes for television, but to a lesser degree. It’s pretty obvious you won’t learn much of worth by watching Jersey Shore, but the history channel or the like might aid you a bit. The trouble is that Television is seen (both by the networks and the viewers) as more of a medium of entertainment as one of information.

CMaz's avatar

“The internet makes you smarter.”
I would rather say… The internet CAN make you more informed.

Because no matter what resources you have. Stupid is, and always has been, what stupid does.

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