All television is educational television. The question is: what is it teaching? wrote Nicholas Johnson.
Television is the most ubiquitous object as it breaks all social barriers and finds its way in every nook and corner of the land. Satellite dishes dot the most unlikely roof tops from crowded slums to the thatch homes of the agricultural labour tending to vegetable fields.
No matter how poor you are, TV is always something you will find money for. Nicholas Johnson is right in saying that all TV is educational but then what does it teach today?
In the times of 24 hours and innumerable channels there is a lot on offer. In tiny homes with a sole TV there is not much scope for parental or any kind of control. The preferred programmes are undoubtedly the plethora of soap operas that seem to have taken the place of the weekly movie outing that was once affordable. Today the big cinema halls with different ticket rates have been replaced by multiplexes where you pay the same for front or back row.
In yore years the back row was for the dating couples and the front row for what was know as the whistling viewers. Post movie day there was a week of processing what you had seen. And in yore years again Bollywood movies did have a social message. Gone are the days of tear jerkers!
Soap operas are family dramas that are a far cry from the reality of those who view them in slums. Nothing resembles the harsh reality of survival. They do provide a much needed escape but where escape is good once in a while, it can be nefarious when resorted to constantly.
Then there are cartoons that are often seen by children after much negotiation and even violent arguments. Some are innocuous but others can be violent.
There are movie channels, reality shows, music channels and even educational channels. Common to each is the clever interspersion of ads. No wonder that you find the most upmarket products in the poorest of homes as these are available in affordable pouches.
Many young slum kids learn their dancing and dress sense from the box. Not a bad thing some would say.
But too much of anything can be dangerous and when there is no control of any kind danger lurks in every image.
At Project Why we try and put things in perspective. The only means to do so is to give every child that comes to us the freedom to share her/his thoughts and desires with us allowing us to help her process it rationally. It is all about open communication.
TV or for that matter any information source is educational provided it is backed by processing and understanding.