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Class Supplement (TOEFL Essay, Is watching TV a useful or enjoyable way of spending time?)


Writing Topic: Some people think watching television is enjoyable and educational, while others think it is a complete waste of time to watch television. Do you think watching TV is a useful or enjoyable way of spending time?

Let’s think: “A” useful or enjoyable way of spending time means that, although it is not “the” best, it is as useful or enjoyable as activities that are considered good. What are useful and enjoyable ways of spending time? What do you usually do when you have some free time and try not to waste it? Do you read, listen to music, watch a movie, do something creative like painting, work out, or hang around with your family or friends? Is watching TV as worth spending your precious time on as other choices?

Ideas and Expressions:
Waste of Time
♦ not a good information source anymore: The amount of information provided by TV for a particular length of time is smaller compared to that of newspapers, magazines, books, and the Internet, which provide detailed information and allow you to skip advertisements. You passively receive the information the TV station has selected according to ratings, popularity votes, which are not always good or right. Information on the Internet is now updated by the minute. Also, there are more informative, thought-provoking, and even enjoyable independent online news shows and information sites. Besides, social media such as WikiLeaks, Twitter, and Facebook often outshine any media in terms of providing truth and latest developments of events.
♦ passive: Not interactive, TV watching requires little creativity, so it dulls your mind.
♦ mind-numbing: TV can make you narrow-minded or brainwashed because it is sponsored by corporations, which can manipulate the content and put emphasis on advertisements. For example, you might develop desire for needless goods or come to follow fashion trends obsessively, not aware of what is really going on in the world.

Useful or Enjoyable
♦ Some special programs such as live broadcasts of sporting events, documentaries, and language programs are not provided anywhere else.
♦ Popular TV programs or ads provide conversation pieces, which are good icebreakers.
♦ One good thing about TV watching is that it allows you to learn things that you did not intend to. By keeping TV on or zapping channels, you can come across interesting people, useful information, or moving stories. It is like taking a walk in an unfamiliar neighborhood and find a lovely garden or sitting among strangers and hear an eye-opening story. The Internet, which is made to be used to search for specific information of your choice, allows this to happen less often.
♦ As long as you keep an eye on how you use it, TV can be a handy tool for fun.

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