Television by Roald Dahl
Roald Dahl(1916-1990) is one of the most prolific children’s books writer in English. He was a sprightly child who liked to play mischief with everyone around him. But, he loathed physical punishment at the hands of superiors and teacher. On one occasion, he was brutally canned by his teacher in the school. The scar and the indignation remained in his mind all through his life. Many of his stories have an innocent child at the center surrounded by a few vicious and violent men. The child survives them because there is always a benign senior to save him. The disdain for physical abuse he endured at school, perhaps, cast a shadow on his imagination in his later years.
Roald Dahl loved the innocence, adventure, and energy of his childhood. For him, the outdoors held great charm, and potential for learning. He railed against Television because, the entertainment device brought children from the meadows, the swamps, the hedges, and the streams, back to the confines of a home.Television offers everything readymade. The child does not have to conjure anything, stretch his imagination to understand anything, and physically interact with anything. The birds, butterflies, the insects, the frogs and the fishes are not to be chased, felt by hand, and treasured in the minds memory chest. They are all available on a platter, thanks to the television.
Television mystifies them, immobilises them, and enslaves them. Sprightly children don’t need to stretch their limbs, jostle, fall, cry, get up, run around. They sit still before the Television still and lifeless, with gaping eyes, and benumbed brain. Television’s spell is unshakable. Its grip is iron-tight, and its attraction is fatal.
Children do not take to reading short stories, novels, fiction because reading demands effort, attention with the mind constantly trying to grapple with the evolving scene. Reading is the hard way to recreation, but it is also the most wholesome source of entertainment. Initially, book reading might appear boring, but after some time, it appears to be more absorbing then watching a TV.
Robert Dahl watched, with great anguish, the inroads television was making to children’s lives. But, he could hardly do anything to counter it. In despair, he urged people to keep their children away from television, and give them books indeed. He knew, the children would resist it, but a small pain now could avert a great catastrophe later.
During Roald Dahl’s days Smart phones had not come into public life, otherwise, he would have been utterly appalled to see its deleterious effect on young and old alike.