The Cultural Impact of Television

The New York World’s Fair in 1939 held some of the earliest exhibits for television, which was greatly influenced by the culture through the technology of radios.  The market opened with DuMont and RCA’s first black and white televisions to the public market.

During the war, although suburbs did struggle, the television helped to raise the market after the war.  The television, just like the image of the housewife began to take on the tool of what was necessary to keep up in social status of the home.  With the new development of the television within the home came the question of ‘Where does the television go within the house’.  (Spidel 1)

 In the past, the family sat around a fireplace, but now the television was taking over the living room.  Even pianos were becoming a thing of the past.  With this came the new terminology of ‘the family room’.  The irony, was this really a family room if the television was the center focal point of interest? 

The television created a world of dreams.  The past was called upon again after the war when women were expected to return home to complete housework while the men went looking for jobs.  The television definitely supported this imagery.  The woman was perceived as a housewife, the male as the worker for the family, and the children as a definite asset to the “American Dream”.  The television shows certainly portrayed the perfect life, but was life really perfect or did the television merely created a fairy-tale lifestyle? (Spidel 2)

 Similar to past generations where the upper classes would buy radios to blend in with their residential designs, the American consumers were beginning to buy television stands to hide the product.  The poor had their televisions on display, while the rich took it upon themselves to make to television seem as though it was secondary to their expansive lifestyles.

 The television certainly called upon a “glued-to-your-seat” idea for children and families.  Families lost “family time” and children lost educational benefits.  Television became the drug of the 1950’s and later generations. (Spidel 3)

 Today, we use the television as a means of our central entertainment on a daily basis with no second-guessing ourselves.  An online study states, “on average a child watches a solid days worth of television over one week” (“Kids”).  Do you think the television has taken away from family life and more important things back in the 1950’s and has exceeded the limit?  Do you think parents should still set time limits for their children? Do you think we move away from the more important things in life to watch our favorite shows?  How has the media used this exhibition and invention to their advantage both in the 1950’s and today?  How has television influenced children and their decisions?



Johnson, Chris. “Kids watching too much TV? Duh!”. 18 Nov. 2009.