A subject that is often talked about is family life. That Modern family life has gone.
Many people blame the problems on the self obsessed media, bad influential figures and the hectic, fast paced lifestyle of today. These may be contributing factors, however, what if it were actually the act of watching the television as a family was what kept families connected.
When the Television first came out it was advertised as a family machine; fun for the whole family. Motorola adverts saying “for your home” “TV adds so much to farm family happiness” and “how television benefits your children” *1. As a result, televisions became wide spread and resulted in a household culture of the family all gathering round every evening to watch their favourite shows together.
Barbara Fiese, PhD, professor and chair of psychology at Syracuse University says” Rituals tend to bring family members close together because they are repeated over time. *2
Television producers and organisations such as The “Family Friendly Programming Forum” deliberately made shows in a broad category to fit in with the whole family’s taste. knowing that families would tune in together to watch
With shows like Different Strokes, the Cosby Show and Happy Days, all which depicted families and the different situations and events they would have to deal with. So they are even to an extent relatable to your family life and can make talking points in which the family discuss something in which you have all seen and can all relate to. Providing needed communication for family relations
But we live in a very time focused society. Where we are dictated by schedules to live our lives; which often separate us from our family. So when you come home, you don’t necessarily have the time or energy to do something more elaborate with your family, but a family talking, sitting together and enjoying something is a good way of keeping connections and relations. But as we now live in an age where technology and entertainment are so wide spread and easily obtainable“with 80 percent of young adults owning a smartphone in USA alone” *2. the entertainment is still available, but due to online streaming companies like Netflix, you no longer have to be back home, in the living room, at a certain time to watch it. And neither does anyone else in the family. Thus a crucial, daily, shared family interaction is taken away.
And even if you are all still at home, at the same time; the fact that instant on demand viewing on a laptop or phone is more appealing then adhering to TV schedules and adverts. But a laptop or mobile phone is generally for singular viewing, alone, in your room. it doesn’t hold the same, group gathering effect as being in the living room, sitting on sofas and all directing your attention at the centre piece which is the TV.
businessinsider.com comments that “In essence, television is not dying so much as it is evolving into an all-encompassing video category, one that includes content streamed over the internet on computers and mobile devices”.’*3
Also the fact that broadcasted shows have become so hyper targeted and specific. so the first change is you all have individual means of obtaining these shows by phone, laptop or tablet, meaning spending your entertainment time, viewing alone. then the group decision of finding something you all like is now gone as you are watching alone and can cater solely to your needs. so due to these factors, you are now in a situation where you may no longer spend time with each other on a daily basis and an active talking point, i.e what you all saw on tv that night, has been taken away due to your individual viewing. so not only has this resulted in fewer shared family experiences but also in less material in which can start active, and group discussion
Brad Adgate, an analyst for Horizon Media in New York Says “It’s very difficult to program a show with broad-based family appeal. The notion that families are sitting in the living room and watching the same show together is more and more scarce. Shows have become so niche and hyper-targeted, so it’s just hard to put on a show that will appeal to all age groups and genders.” *4
Due to the advancement in technology, TV has lost its role as the main way to view entertainment And in addition, has lost its role as a common ground which can bring the family together for even one hour out of their day to sit and all enjoy the same thing in each others company.
” A new Nielsen survey shows that traditional TV usage among millennial viewers tumbled 10.6% between September and January” *5
So we are left in a world where we have the broadest and most accessible entertainment ever, but has left us isolated to enjoy this entertainment alone, and losing the value of having the shared experience of enjoyment. and really, isn’t that what entertainment is all about?
The “Family Friendly Programming Forum” is a coalition of over 40 advertisers, all of whom sought to increase the amount of “family-friendly” programming on U.S. television.