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  • The Cultural Impact of Television

    Television changed the way Americans entertained themselves. Baby boom generation members Steve Oliver and Sarah Fountain and University of Georgia’s College of Journalism professor Dr. Allison Alexander describe life before television when they played outside, read books, listened to the radio or played board games. Rep. John Lewis of Atlanta contends that without television, the Civil Rights movement would have been like a bird without wings. Barry Sherman, in the University of Georgia’s College of Journalism, notes that television made the Vietnam War more personal.

    Support Materials

    Discuss

    1. Television was first introduced in the South by WSB in 1948. Describe the immediate effect it had on people’s lives, especially children.

    2. Examine ways that television changed the way people thought.

    3. Compare types of programs in the early days of television with the programs shown today.

    4. Write a short story or scenario that depicts a person who time travels from 1948 to the present. Focus on the impact of TV on American life. How might this person react to television?

    Expansion

    1. Debate the statement, "Television has a more positive influence than negative influence on youth."

    2. Use a current TV program for a particular day to find the following: 
    a. number of children and/or family programs (rated G) listed 
    b. number of adult-only programs listed (rated PG – X) 
    c. number of programs with violent/drug use content (i.e., police, detective, boxing/wrestling, etc. programs) 
    d. number of game shows 
    e. number of sports shows Looking at the numbers of each of the programs above, does society reflect the influence of these kinds of programs on children, teens and adults? Or is TV reflecting society? Which came first? 

    3. The Internet has changed America as much or more than the introduction of television. Compare the use of the Internet to the introduction and use of television in American homes. How is the impact of both mediums alike and how is it different?

    Vocabulary

    television programming: the list of television shows and their times which is available to the public
    WSBTV: located in Atlanta, the first television station in the South
    broadcast: to send out (signals, programs, etc.) by radio or television

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Television was first introduced in the South by WSB in 1948. Describe the immediate effect it had on people’s lives, especially children. 
    Children did not play outside as much, get as much exercise, read (comic book industry was less popular), play family games or listen to the radio.
     
    2. Examine ways that television changed the way people thought. 
    News events were seen as they happened. An example was the impact of the Civil Rights movement on people’s opinions. Coverage showed the marching and activities of the activists and altercations against the camera crews, police and reporters. The Vietnam War in the 1960’s became more personal. People began to question why Americans were involved in the War after they watched all the killing and atrocities on the screen. The War became very unpopular.
     
    3. Compare types of programs in the early days of television with the programs shown today. 
    Early programs were very family oriented. There were some that were strictly for kids. They were innocent and basically provided entertainment for the viewer. Today programs air more adult themes. Language and story lines often reflect violence and are unsuited for young people.
     
    4. Write a short story or scenario that depicts a person who time travels from 1948 to the present. Focus on the impact of TV on American life. How might this person react to television? 
    A timeline of inventions such as TV, the computer chip, Apple and Microsoft innovations, etc. - all the technology of the 20th century - would help students be able to realize how much life has changed since 1948. Teens have difficulty imagining life before they were born. The timeline would be a graphic picture of all the changes. In addition, the teacher might want to make sure that modern day inventions do not creep into their story/scenario. We take so much for granted until we realize that we haven't had certain conveniences for very long.

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