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Is Entertainment Necessary for Us?

8 min read

Among authors, philosophers, entertainers and educators, Entertainment has been the topic of discussion for decades. The battle of words between those who favor entertainment and those who prefer other intellectual things like education over the former has not yet reached any conclusion, with both sides constantly throwing in their own points to counter the ones raised by the other side.

In practice, however, we see a lot of overlapping for both. The entertainment industry seems to make a lot of money by incorporating scientific and technical theories and laws into their products while the educationists are on a constant spree to somehow make the otherwise boring classrooms more ‘entertaining’. Let us, look at it from both angles and analyze the idea “is entertainment necessary?”

The Role Entertainment Plays in Our Lives

 In modern day, people tend to dedicate definite amounts of time entertaining themselves and their families which may seem small on day to day basis but when cumulated it adds up to huge numbers. According to a report published on nypost.com an average US citizen spends around 78,000 hours (almost 9 years) of their lives in front of a TV screen and around 13 hours if you include all kinds of media. Given the statistics it won’t be wrong to say that the role entertainment plays in our lives is huge. The word “entertain” comes from the French juxtaposition, entre meaning ‘together’ and Latin ‘tenere’ meaning ‘to hold’ so entertain would mean to hold together. The modern-day version of the word would mean any and all activities that serve to bring us together as a family or as a society. But is it really keeping true to its original meaning or has it like most of us (especially when we are in front of the screen) deviated from its course? 

The Benefits of Entertainment

Most of us indulge and even overindulge into things that are entertaining, so there must be a handful of reasons for us to do it. Let us look at some of the benefits of entertainment these days to help us derive is entertainment necessary for us.

Distraction

Very often we hear our peers and family members say things like ‘I need a break’ or ‘I need some time to take my mind off things’. All these phrases mean that your loved ones are looking for ways to distract themselves from their otherwise monotonous and overly stressful routine(s). A few hours of Netflix or YouTube are the ‘go-to’ platforms for most of us where we watch and re-watch our favorite shows and movies or in other words enter worlds that are free from all the real-life stresses, deadlines, home works, incomplete assignments and even our never-ending domestic chores. Entertainment, hence, serves to improve our mental health and aid us in trying to strike a balance between real life and reel life.

Family Time

Entertainment also includes a family gathering around in front of the big screen and watching the finale of their mutually favorite TV series or the recent release of their beloved actor or the newest addition to a film series. Such gatherings bring out joyous laughter in times of leisure and helps a family bond together. It allows siblings and parents to interact more freely and enjoy each other’s company. 

May Promote Culture

The entertainment industry of every region strives to incorporate bits and pieces of their traditions and cultures into whatever they put up on display screens for the whole world to witness. Whether it is in the form of films or documentaries or drama, theatre or even personal vlogs. The medium helps culture to cross borders and makes people realize how similar or different they are from their neighboring states or countries. 

Allows Minds to Wander Out of the Box and into the Lands of Creativity

Our dear planet currently hosts a diverse population of almost 7.8 billion humans who have extremely different tastes not just in the kind of cuisines they prefer but also in terms of the kind of entertainment they enjoy. Creating something that fits them all would be as fascinating as travelling at the speed of light (really highly unlikely) but that does not mean one shouldn’t try. Just as I type or you read this article, there are creatives out there trying to bring to life characters and stories that would make to the watch or read lists of a population as large as possible. Getting into the creating business behind all kinds of entertainment allows our mind to explore areas that might even surprise ourselves.   

Edu-tainment (Education + Entertainment)

Yup. I am pretty sure that’s not an actual word but hey we just talked about thinking creatively. At the young ages when our child’s mind is as fragile and moldable as unbaked clay, we must make the whole concept of learning things fun for them. Albert Einstein once said that “education is what remains after you have forgotten what you learned at school” and one of the best ways to ensure that our kids do get educated without tiring themselves too much it’s always handy to make their lessons a tad bit more entertaining.

The Negative Effects of Entertainment

You know how they say that there comes some bad with all the good? Well, it’s true for the topic of entertainment too. It’s time to now have a look at some of the negativities of entertainment because only after looking at the pros and cons equally can we decide that is entertainment necessary.

Make Lives Sedentary

Authentically, entertainment should involve all types of activities that bring people together and allows them to enjoy themselves which includes sports and galas. Unfortunately though, for most people in today’s time, the word entertainment is synonymous with spending a few solid hours in front of a screen. Even sports lovers prefer watching a good match between two hardcore opponents on TV or maybe Youtube instead of going out to the nearest ground or club and kicking some things physically and personally because come on ‘we only get Sunday’s off and we rather spend it indoors than out’. It’s not much of a science that our versions of entertainment do add to the already prevailing culture of sedentary lifestyles – less movement, more working/chilling. 

Addictive – Less Time for Productive Things

Time flies when you are having fun. I’m sure each one of us has experienced that once you get on the entertainment spree, you tend to lose track of time and that is not always helpful. Sometimes that makes us miss important deadlines or cramp ourselves with so much of last-minute work that it ends up with us compromising on either the quality of work or our health, both of which are not very sound things to let happen. Entertaining ourselves is important, but so are other things. Distracting our minds too much may drift us off our track and finding a way back can be one of the hardest things possible. 

On-screen Entertainment and Health Concerns

When you spend too much time entertaining yourself in front of a monitor or a TV screen you might just increase your chances of developing one, some or even all of the health concerns listed below:

·         Muscle strains, backaches and muscle spasms

·         Migraines and other kinds of headaches

·         Eyestrain

·         Weight gain and obesity

·         Hypertension

What Studies Aay About the Effects of Entertainment

Apart from the pros and cons of entertainment discussed above, there are a number of things that scientific studies have to add to the list. Let’s have a look at some of the studies and their results.

  • A study published in research gate talked about the positive effects of entertainment and stated that allowing your child to indulge in certain kinds of video games for the sake of entertainment can help him/her develop better cognitive and strategic skills. The authors argue that despite numerous games promoting violent war tactics in children a number of them actually encourage qualities like the use of logic, memory, problem-solving and analytics.

  • Another study published on NCBI hinted that there are a number of ways in which TV may affect a person’s beliefs, values and cultural thoughts. Now, this may be treated as a good thing or a bad one depending on your standpoint, but from a neutral angle, entertainment opens doors and allows people to think beyond the barriers of cast, culture, religion and ethnicity. It allows us to challenge our perceived believes or in some case makes us hold on to them even more strongly.

  • There is a whole field of study in psychology known as media psychology which focuses on the effects of media on human behavior and the love-hate relationship these two might share. Dr Sarah Vinson, a certified adolescent and child psychiatrist, said that the increasing amount of access our children have to media and entertainment is leading them to become less social and interact with their fellows and peers much less than they should be.  

In a Nutshell

Entertainment should be something much more than what you do in your leisure time for fun or a means to escape reality. On the contrary, it should be something worth investing our time and energy on. Something that you spend your precious time on and concurrently let yourself grow intellectually, morally or even temporarily. After all, a great man (Marshall McLuhan) once said that “Anyone who tries to make a distinction between education and entertainment doesn’t know the first thing about either.”

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Written by Spencer K.

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