Sesame street, Play School, Bear in the big blue house and the Teletubbies. Only some of the popular television shows that shaped our childhoods.
As the years changed throughout primary school, traditional weekly morning tv didn’t. ABC was the prime channel for children’s morning shows, where sing-a-longs to ABC’s got me through the dreadful process of getting ready for school.
Television impacted the way I told the time, school mornings I would often wake up with Bear in the big blue house at 7.30am and once I heard the Sesame Street theme song I knew I was already late for school. Of an afternoon, 3.45pm was prime time for Rollercoaster and shortly after watching Neighbours and The Simpsons I knew I could be expecting my parents to arrive home from work.
When I started high school, my family set up Foxtel into my home. The Disney Channel and Nickelodeon became my routine on weekdays and on the weekends. Whereas now my TV intake is almost half of what it used to be, being introduced to torrenting has greatly influenced the way I access and watch TV shows. Now TV watching is done behind a laptop screen however, on the off occasions at 8.30pm tuning into ARENA with my family to watch Real Housewives of Melbourne.
After observing my own relationship with television, I asked my dad. What are you memories of growing up with a TV? His answer greatly differed from my own, and highlights the generation gap.
“When the television first came out your grandparents thought it was nonsense. But after years of being the only family out of all my friends to own a television, they eventually got one. It was nothing but a square box with two antennas on the top. I used to have to stand at the TV and move the antennas for certain channels, and everything was in black and white” said dad. “These days TV isn’t a privilege, but when I was growing up TV meant family time, if I was good I was allowed to watch my favourite show for 30minutes a day. After dinner we all had to sit around in the lounge room and spend the rest of our night together, when you and your sister were little we used to do that to but now that everyone has grown up it isn’t like it used to be”.
In our household we have six televisions, with two Foxtel boxes. As a result of this the television dynamic has changed in our household. During my trip to Italy this year, I found that each culture value television in different ways. For instance after visiting two families on my trip only one had a TV where the other explained that when living with so much family a Television isn’t needed.
“We only have one TV in the house, we’ve never wanted more and we hardly use this one. In this apartment building there I have four other siblings living with their families, we are always together. A newspaper and my family is all I need for entertainment and news, televisions are just a waste of money and time” says Attilio. “I bought a TV for my children, so they don’t miss out on growing up in this new age. When I was a little kid, we read the newspapers and went out in the town and spoke to locals. That was entertainment, not being hypnotised by a box”.
After leaving Australia and experiencing another culture for five weeks, you begin to understand the cultural differences and values. The cultural values of television not only differs between culture and ethnicity, but also generations too.
Over a decade ago educator Neil Postman described the ascendancy of the Age of Television and the decline of the Age of Print as “the most significant American cultural fact of the second half of the twentieth century”. Modern media acknowledges “television is undeniably the most powerful influence in our society today… we can communicate anything we choose almost anywhere in the world… instantaneously, in a puff of electrons” . The evolution television has had numerous positive impacts throughout the world, from education to cultural awareness and awareness of the current news and events happening around the world.
However, no matter how greatly the infamous television has impacted our world. It is evident that through upbringings and diverse cultures that the memories and dependence we have on TV greatly differs. Imagine if the world reverted to a time where there was only newspapers and the local radio, how would the newer generations cope?