Does Watching Television Really Make You Smarter?

Watching television makes you smarter? Is it preposterous or not? Steven Johnson states that “with the many shows that we associate with “quality” entertainment, the intelligence arrives fully formed in the words and actions of the characters on-screen.”(280) Dana Stevens, on the other hand, is convinced and she states, “If watching television really makes you smarter, then I guess I need to watch a lot more of it.” Do we ask ourselves “how do we know if it works or not,” or do we simply believe the critics.

It may come off as if our generation is being deprived by what we see on television. Many of the things that we watch on television can indeed influence our lives whether we realize it or not. Watching music videos or reality shows that document the lives of today’s stars may influence us as to what kind of life style we want to live and what type of house we want to live in.

Steven Johnson writes an article called, “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” and he talks about how some reality shows may be nutritional for the younger generation. He argues that people make the assumption that most television shows only promote bad habits. No one really sees the greatness of shows that may promote positive action. For example, “Teen Mom” talks about young teenagers becoming parents at such a young age and show how life can be challenging when you are a young mother or father.

  As a person who does indeed sit around and watches a lot of television, I am convinced that it does make you smarter. By smarter I do mean it makes you think. Have you ever notice that certain television shows may have a different way of teaching you different things or life lessons? Take for example the television show “16 and Pregnant.” In this show it shows the everyday life of young teen moms who may have made some poor life decisions. The teens are followed around through-out their pregnancy day-by-day up until the day they deliver.

After the delivery is when they are asked for a follow up show “Teen Mom.” This show shows the long nights and how hard it may be juggling school, a job and a child all at a young age. Seeing that these show would teach some young people a lesson if do believe that it could make you smarter in a way that many people don’t realize it.

Other shows that have a big influence on the brain are “Family Feud” and “Jeopardy”. Based on my personal experience and self-testing, I find it to be not only educational but entertaining. As Dana Stevens would say, it’s not like we are forced to watch it, it’s entertaining so we keep watching it. Even so if some people watch it for the entertainment, many other people see it as educational or feeding your brain.      

  Dana Stevens makes a statement in response to Steven Johnson’s theory of television makes you smarter. She says, “There couldn’t be a better time to test Steven Johnson’s theory than National Television turn off week- just turn the set off till Sunday and see if you get any dumber.”(298) Being that she said this statement only goes to show that she does not agree with what Steven Johnson is for. Stevens feels that Johnson is very inconclusive on exactly how television makes you smarter.

Seeing this argument from Dana Steven’s side kind of makes you think a little more and deeper on this particular subject. Being that I used many different shows to explain my point of view on the subject let’s look at it the way some other people may think to look at it.  Yes, there are some shows that may indeed give life lesson or educate you at best, but what about the shows that people watch that are not educational?

Based on entertainment most shows show violence and drugs which are more demanding because of the thrill that people receive from watching such excitement. But saying this would go back to a conflict occurring because if people had gain an increase in intelligence by watching such shows, how come they don’t feel the same towards educational shows. Most people really don’t want to watch television show to learn something. They do it for the thrill and excitement as to what’s to come in future episodes.

The assumption that watching television makes you smarter may vary from person to person. We all have our different opinions and no one person is absolutely right. Scientifically speaking, unless there have been many test ran, no one person can personally state that watching television make you smarter. My personal beliefs and my views based on certain television shows bring me to the conclusion that it does make you smarter.



Austin Barker, Jorelle Farmer, Kaylie Heike, and Domonique Jones


 Collaborative One-Act Play:  Fast Food: Good or Bad?

Character Guide:

Morgan Spurlock: The main character from Super Size Me, he spent thirty days eating nothing but McDonalds for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. He ended up having major mood swings, dramatically increased weight, and health issues. He is a producer and a writer, known for Super Size Me(2004), The Greatest Movie Ever Sold (2011) and Where in the World is Osama Bin Laden? (2008).

Dr. Oz: (Mehmet Cengiz Öz) Author, talk show host, and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University. He is an expert on many health issues. He now hosts his own health TV series, The Doctor Oz Show.

David Zinczenko: Author of  Don’t Blame the Eater. He is the editor-in-chief of Men’s Health magazine. He is the New York Times bestselling author of Cook This, Not That! and The New Abs Diet.

All in homes Oz makes conference call to David Zinczenko and Morgan Spurlock

Dr. Oz:  (on the phone) Hey would you all want to meet up for a jog this afternoon?

David Zinczenko & Morgan Spurlock: Sounds good!

Oz: Ok, let’s meet at the park at 3 pm.

Warm afternoon in the park. Morgan Spurlock, David Zinczenko, and Dr. Oz meet for an afternoon jog.

MS: Guys! I’m hungry

DZ and Oz: Ok. We will go with you to get something to eat.

Walk to the car and get in. They are now driving and trying to decide where to stop.

MS: Where should we get something to eat?

Dr. Oz: We should get something healthy.

MS: Well, there is a McDonalds right around this corner.

Dr. Oz: That is not a very healthy choice Morgan!  

MS: Yeah, I figured that, where can I find a healthy snack or maybe a grapefruit?

DZ: I am not sure.

MS: You know that is just sad that we can’t go down this road and find a simple healthy snack or grapefruit, but there are three McDonalds in this small town, all near each other.

DZ: That is so true. “Drive down any thoroughfare in America, and I guarantee you’ll see one of our countries more than 13,000 McDonald’s restaurants” (392).

Dr. Oz: Look at all of the obese people who are walking around. Do you guys know what causes obesity?

MS: No.

Dr. Oz: “The cause of obesity is very complex, but based on a simple concept. It is the result of a person taking in more energy for calories (food) than they burn off from physical activity and maintaining proper body function (metabolism).”

DZ: This is a big concern in America. No wonder a lot of people are obese, one of the reasons is because we cannot go down this road and find fresh fruit, but we see tons of fast food restaurants.

MS: It causes weight gain. “And this weight gain has been linked to countless health problems later in life.” Its not worth eating fast food before I start jogging, I will just wait and eat after we jog.

They get back to the park and stretch

MS:  It’s too bad that the park is empty all the time. I guess people just think exercise is too hard.

DZ: I come out here four or five times a week to jog, and all I see are elderly people walking.

MS: Now a days you see children indoors the entire time playing with technology, but you use to see everyone outdoors playing and enjoying themselves.

DZ: This is pretty sad to see this transformation, but Dr. Oz you know a lot about this situation because you told us before about it, so could you tell Morgan and I again.

Dr. Oz: I sure will. “Here’s a health tip that sounds too easy to be true: Stand up.” “the average American, spend[s] nearly eight hours a day—more than 50 hours per week—planted on [their] behind” “There’s a cost to all that downtime (and it’s not just a spreading lower half). When you’re sitting, your body undergoes a metabolic slowdown. You use less blood sugar for energy, and you burn fewer calories. Sitting also decreases the activity of an enzyme called lipoprotein lipase, which works to eliminate fats in the blood. The worst part: Even regular exercise won’t protect you. Research has shown that if you spend long periods sitting, you’ll have a larger waist, greater body mass index, and higher levels of blood sugar and blood fats than someone who takes frequent breaks to stand or stretch—regardless of how often you lace up your running shoes. Ultimately, spending more time on your feet means a longer life. However, even desk-bound workers aren’t doomed. [There are] simple changes can create a more active routine.”

MS: I guess we should get a start on our running. Maybe people seeing us be fit will convince them to get up and out. You know, set a good example.

Dr. Oz: That is a great way to start a change. Maybe next time we run you can invite your friends. The park is a great place to start to be fit and have fun too.

DZ: I saw one of your articles on that. You talked about taking your family on runs. I think it would be fun to start a group that runs each week. Then we might be able to get the community involved in some exercise. Well, we should probably quit chatting and get to running.

They begin running and depart from the park

Works Cited

David Zinczenko. “Don’t Blame the Eater”. “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing: With Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkensrein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 391-394. Print.

 Oz, Dr. Mehmet. “Dr. Oz on the Importance of Being Active.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Mar. 2014.

Supersize Me – Morgan Spurlock Spews. Dir. Morgan Spurlock. Perf. Morgan Spurlock. Samuel Goldwyn Films, 2008. Film

“Treating Morbid Obesity: The Weight is Over.” The Dr. Oz Show. N.P., n.d. Web. 24.Mar.2014



An Annotated Bibliography: “Does Watching TV Really Make You Smarter”

An Annotated Bibliography: “Does Watching TV Really Make You Smarter”


Many people, throughout the world, turn on their televisions and watch the many reality shows provided to them. Some individuals have said that watching TV makes you smarter. Some people may argue that that is preposterous, but Steven Johnson says otherwise. He states that “With the many shows that  we associate with “quality” entertainment, the intelligence arrives fully formed in the words and actions of the characters on-screen.” (280)

The bibliography that follows the introduction touches on some ways that television can make you smarter.  Johnson’s essay included how people may be wrong about how watching reality television shows “dumbs you down.”

Dana Stevens disagrees with Steven Johnson and states that “If watching TV really makes you smarter, as Steven Johnson argued, then I guess I need to watch a lot more of it.”(295)



Annotated Bibliography

Johnson, Steven, “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 277-294. Print.

In Steven Johnson’s “Watching TV Makes You Smarter,” Johnson talks about how reality shows may indeed be nutritional for the younger generation. He also says that many people assume that television show often promote bad things like drugs and alcohol but people never see the good in the shows that promote the positive role against  teen pregnancy. TV shows like “Teen Mom,” shows young parents who did get pregnant at a young age and how hard life can be when you are a young mother or father.


 Dana Stevens, “They Say/I Say”: The Moves That Matter in Academic Writing. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, and Russell  Durst. New York: Norton, 2012. 295-298. Print.

            Dana Stevens makes the statement, there couldn’t be a better time to test Steven Johnson’s theory than National TV turn off week-just turn the set off till Sunday and see if you get any dumber.”(298) Dana Stevens completely disagrees with Johnson theory on watching TV makes you smarter. Dana Stevens feels as if Johnson has inconclusive evidence on how watching TV can make you smart. She also talks about how its not that we are forced to watch television, but we do because the shows that catch our attention make it addictive.

“Teen Mom”. Annotated Bibliography. 25 Feb. 2014

Teen Mom” is a TV show series “16 and Pregnant.” In “Teen Mom” these young mothers are put to the test of raising a child at such a young age. It also shows the daily life and routine of these young mothers. Including their journey through high school and dropping out and missing out on the real life of a teenager. Steven Johnson mention in his essay that “while those that thunder against teen pregnancy or intolerance have a positive role in society.”(279) I say this to state that this show goes to show that maybe TV can make you smarter. If you learn what it is that you are not supposed to and what will happen if you do then this show has served its purpose?