The purpose of this study is to explore the effects and impacts of television (TV) in Taiwan. More specifically, it is a study of the relationships between TV viewing and Taiwanese adolescents’ perceptions and values toward society. The primary focus includes perceptions of human relationships, crime and violence. What kinds of influences does watching TV programs have on adolescents’ views about the real world? Do heavy viewers tend to perceive the world more according to the portrayals of TV compared to light viewers? Does viewing imported United States (U.S.) programming lead to a different perspective?
Without a systematic and rigorous scientific inquiry into this social phenomenon, these significant questions crucial to the understanding of media and society can’t be properly answered.
It has been commonly agreed that television has become the source of the most broadly shared images and messages in history. Television has been also regarded as a centralized system of storytelling. A most elaborate statement and observation about the impact of TV on society is demonstrated in the following:
The longer we live with TV, the more invisible it becomes. Saturation and viewing time, incredibly high for decades, continue to increase. Its dramas, commercials, news, and other programs bring a relatively coherent world of common images and messages into every home. TV cultivates from infancy the very predispositions and preferences that used to be acquired from other primary sources such as family and school. Transcending historic barriers of literacy and mobility, TV has become the primary common source of socialization and everyday information of an otherwise heterogeneous population (Gerbneret al., 1986, p.17-p.18).
In Taiwan, there is a very similar use of television. Rich or poor, old or young, male or female, and educated or uneducated are all enmeshed in the world of TV day by day (average 3.6 hours per day, ROC National Poll Association, 1986). The necessity of reliable and credible social research investigating the dynamics of TV viewing is urgent in order to provide useful suggestions for policy-making.