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Staring at the clock, I was eager to leave, I hated the class I was in because all we ever did was read the same thing over and over and it could not be any more unproductive. My classes that year were meaningless and worthless, the only reason I was taking them was in order to graduate. Scared to look forward I reflected on my past, which was filled with many memories. Growing up I was addicted to television and I was watching TV any chance I could get. Whether while I was eating, hanging out, or alone, a television was always on. Because of that I was exposed to shows that were not in my age group. For example at age ten, Jerry Springer was my favorite show to watch, I would stay up just to catch new episodes. Since most of the time instead of studying I was watching Television my grades plummeted. Because of all this I was placed in the equivalent of vocational education.
Work hard play later, that’s a statement that only works in that order. My life was the complete opposite which is a dire issue. I got lucky and found myself one last chance, in which I pray I never mess up. These days we find so many kids relaxing and not working hard, who find themselves in situations that they do not desire. Because of this, they end up struggling in school and underachieving. The cause of this can be traced back to many variables, but I’m here to argue that television can be one of them. With the opportunity for kids to be exposed to adult advertisement, how do we expect kids to succeed? Marie Winn’s idea that families put such a heavyweight on television, Eric Schlosser’s idea that companies spend so much time and money focused on child advertisement, and Mike Rose’s idea that kids should avoid being placed in vocational education should make any person wonder if kids are setup to fail.
In Marie Winn’s essay “Television: The Plug-in Drug” one of the repercussions of watching television that will lead kids to underachieving is that it destroys the quality of life. Picture this; a child comes home from school eager to watch his favorite show. He spends the next hour intensely gazing and observing what’s going on. His mom is cooking dinner and his dad is watching the football game in the living room. While they eat dinner all eyes are just gazed on the television, they don’t even have to like what’s playing but the fact that it’s on grabs their attention. Many children’s lives are occupied with hours of television, which diverts their attention from more important aspects of life. For example it affects family bonding, studying, and a lot of other things.
Another repercussion that Marie Winn explains is that watching too much television can hurt “relationships with real-life people”. I can say for sure I was a victim of that, I remember as a child coming out of movies and finding the transition back to real life tough. My head was still in the plot of the movie but my body was in reality, and when that happens that’s when problems come up. But that’s only movies, think about a child watching the same show every day, that would definitely have a great effect. Also if a kid watches television consistently Winn argues that it will affect his or hers eye to eye contact. How could we then expect kids to have meaningful conversations with teachers, knowing that they lack that essential skill? How can we expect kids to study when their minds are on the power rangers, or how can we expect kids to talk to teachers when an issue arises? It’s a problem, and one that traces back to the amount of television we watch.
In Eric Schollaser’s essay “Kid Kustomers” one of the reasons that will lead kids to not excel is, since they watch so much television their exposed to all types of advertisement. Mr. Schlosser brings up two very interesting studies to illustrate his point. “A 1991 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that nearly all of America’s six-year-olds could identify Joe Camel, who was just as familiar to them as Mickey Mouse. Another study found that one-third of the cigarettes illegally sold to minors were Camels. (354)” As you can see ads have a direct effect on children. Being exposed to these types of ads at an early age can help build bad habits for kids, which will be hard to break. For example, what happens if a kid is so amused by the Joe Camel commercials and decides to buy a cigarette, or if that same child loves the Budweiser commercials and starts drinking? Both are substances that can bring addiction and harm, but more so for children. With their minds and bodies still growing these substances can inflict a lot of harm. As a result kids can lose interest in school. But this is not the only way these ads affect kids.
Along with exposing kids to all kinds of harmful habits, these ads divert kid’s attention from more important obligations. Ad companies spend so much time and money advertising for little kids, in hopes that it will build brand loyalty. What this brings are kids that will not stop thinking about a specific item or product. Growing up I loved watching McDonald’s commercials, so much that every day after school I would beg my parents to take me there. I would nag them day in and day out. Schlosser brings up the seven way kids nag their parents, persistent, forceful, demonstrative, sugar-coated, threatening, and pity. Personally, when I was younger I would go down that list and hope one would end me up at a local McDonalds. It’s a problem, kid’s attention these days are focused on less important ads. With kids attention split a million different ways how can we expect them to shine in the classroom.
In Mike Rose’s essay “I Just Wanna Be Average” he explains how kids are hopeless when they enter Vocal Education. “The vocational track, however: is most often a place for those who are just not making it, a dumping ground for the disaffected. Most the teachers had no idea of how to engage the imaginations of us kids who were scuttling along at the bottom of the pond.(334)” Kids that tended to slack off in school and show no effort, typically were the ones placed on this track. The shocking part is schools put very little time in the vocational track. Teachers that are put in the program are typically very uneducated, students are typically very rowdy and disrespectful, and school administrators tend to overlook any issue that may arise in the program. Most kids that enter vocational education are just taking classes in order to graduate, with no hope of going to a college or university. That’s why it’s hopeless, you feel like a sitting duck. When I was in the vocational track at times it felt like I had no future, and because of that I could only live in the present.
I think now the allegory becomes clear, I took the ideas from three stories to bring to light a common undesirable route. Kids these days spend so much time behind a television. Because of that they are exposed to so many adult advertisements, such as Budweiser and cigarette commercials. Ad agencies spend so much time and energy towards little kids the result being able to build brand loyalty in there heads. Granted, kids are more likely to pick up bad habits and more likely to do poorly in school. Therefore on the fast track to be placed in vocational education, from there lord only knows where they will go. That’s why in my thesis I stat that kids are setup to fail, with all the influences this world brings it sure as hell feels like it. Personally looking back I wonder if I could off avoided that path.
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