BY SOFO ARCHON
TV SUCKS. At least for the most part, and here you’re going to find out exactly why.
In a culture where most people are obsessed with watching television, I can’t help but point out the negative effects of watching too much television.
Don’t get me wrong, television certainly has much to offer, and without a doubt is a great innovation, but when it comes to relying on it, whether to be informed or entertained, it can certainly affect you negatively.
So what are the main harmful effects of watching television that you should keep in mind before tuning into your favorite TV shows?
Keep scrolling and I’ll show you.
Television is bad for your health
I’m pretty sure you know that watching television means physical inactivity. But did you know that inactivity has been linked to obesity and heart disease?
In case you didn’t, now you do.
So ask yourself this: Is it merely a coincidence that in the West — where people are spending enormous amount of time watching television — the rates of obesity and heart disease in people of all ages are rapidly increasing?
Indeed, more and more studies reveal the adverse health effects of watching television.
A study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health indicates that watching too much television can significantly increase the risk of developing obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Another study carried out at the University of Rhode Island found that prolonged television watching decreases viewers’ sense of self-efficacy in maintaining personal health.
And these are just a couple of studies among dozens.
As you can understand, the side effects of watching a lot of TV on your health can be pretty damaging. So perhaps you’d be better off if you limited the time you spend keeping your body immobile staring at an electronic screen, don’t you agree?
Television feeds you false information
TV is ruining your health, which is pretty bad in itself. But other than ruining your health, it’s also ruining your perception.
One of the most harmful effects of watching television is that TV appears to portray or report reality, when in fact it just allows us to get a small glimpse of what’s really going on. This particularly happens while watching TV newscasts. When we watch a 30-minute newscast, we usually believe that what it’s showing us is all there is to see. After all, if there was more to see, wouldn’t television show us more?
Unfortunately most people accept whatever television is feeding them, without ever casting a doubt on its truthfulness. Perhaps the reason why we do so is that we prefer ignorance over knowledge, because, as the saying goes, “ignorance is bliss.”
The harsh truth is that searching to find out the truth requires effort, and so we prefer to let the evening news do all the search for us. In this way, we don’t need to do anything: No effort, nothing to worry about. We choose the easy way, but a serious disadvantage of doing so is that we also choose to accept a distorted view of reality.
Television kills your self-esteem
When you watch an hour of TV, you’re exposed to about 15 minutes of commercials, whose sole purpose is to persuade you to buy stuff.
How exactly do they achieve that? Firstly, by making you feel bad about yourself. Once they do so, they sell you products and services with the promise that they’ll improve your self-esteem.
In other words, commercials are emotionally manipulating you, and most of the time you aren’t even aware of it. The result? Spending your hard-earned money purchasing products you actually don’t need and which will sooner or later leave you disappointed and sad. In addition, by constantly consuming things, you’re creating immense material waste that is messing up with our planet’s ecology.
Television makes you dumb
Another dangerously bad effect of excessively watching television is the fact it can hinder our ability to think.
Having talking heads continuously giving us quick information, opinion, analysis and criticism for just about everything, slowly leads us to stop using our own critical thinking skills. As a consequence, we can be easily misinformed and manipulated.
That’s why it’s especially important for parents and school teachers to help children and students understand the ill effects of spending too much time in front of a TV screen. Children are much more vulnerable to the messages TV is sending, and so they need to be taught from an early age how to protect themselves from them.
Of course, there are a few programs on TV that are educational and thought-provoking (in other words, that have a good, positive impact on our intelligence), but let’s admit it: The majority of television programs are just trash.
Indeed, we rarely find a program on TV that requires us to think. In fact, television programming is designed in such a way to match our attention spam. This perfectly explains why almost all programs are 30 to 60 minutes long. It also explains why television programs rarely dedicate the entire program to a single topic.
Therefore, not only can’t television programs provide us with any decent thought to stimulate discussion, but they present information in such a way that we can’t digest it properly. As a result, we can easily form opinions without allowing the information to first be filtered through our minds, and while we might think that we become more knowledgeable, in reality we become dumb.
Television wastes your time
Life is short, but we choose to spend it watching television.
Just think of how many hours of our day most of us waste watching television. Believe it or not, surveys reveal that people in the Western world spend 5-10 hours a day watching television!
Instead of living our life to the fullest, we sit in front of a dead though “entertaining” device, which we have chosen as a substitute for true living.
Instead of going out to play soccer, we are so obsessed with watching soccer games and admiring our favorite sportspeople, as if they are some kind of heroes.
Instead of going to the kitchen and cook a healthy meal, we prefer to sit in the sofa, watching special cooking shows where people are savoring all kinds of delicious food, while we’re filling our bodies with junk.
Instead of going out to meet people, converse with them and have fun, we choose to be all alone confined within four walls, so as to watch with full attention adventure movies, reality shows, and soap operas.
But I am asking you, is this living?
A time will come when your physical and mental energy will be dissipated, and you’ll realize that you have not yet actually lived. But then it will be too late, and you’ll be filled with regrets.
So what are you waiting for? Turn off that goddamn TV and do something that truly matters.
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"Watching too much TV is bad for your child's health" - we're sure you've heard this piece of advice plenty of times. Even though many children’s education advocates propagate the idea of children viewing more educational programmes, some believe that zero TV viewing is the best solution for optimal child health. Today, we find out how and why watching too much TV is bad for your child's health and what are the best practices to limit its use.
First of all, let us find out if you are a TV addict. It is generally observed that if parents watch too much TV, the children will too. Thus, it is best to cut down on your TV time, if you find yourself doing any of the following:
- Channel surfing a lot with no particular viewing agenda.
- You switch on the TV first thing as you wake up in the morning, and leave it on throughout the day even when you are not watching it.
- You have no interest in TV, but you watch it literally out of a habit.
- You tend to cut short on important social events, only to watch your favourite programmes.
Now, let's look at the deep-rooted health effects of TV on children.Too much of TV viewing time is linked to:
- Obesity. It is generally observed that children who watch more than two hours of TV in a day are more likely to be overweight. While describing the relationship between television watching and childhood obesity, Drs. R.M. Viner and T.J. Cole from the University College London assessed data from 8,158 participants of the 1970 Birth Cohort. Height, weight, and frequency of television watching were assessed at ages 5, 10, and 30 years. The researchers found that each additional hour of weekend TV watching by five-year-old children over the suggested two hours, increased the risk of obesity in 30 year olds by 7%. [Via].
In another study conducted by Division of General Pediatrics and Stanford Center for Research in Disease Prevention, investigators hypothesized that television viewing causes obesity by one or more of three mechanisms: (1) displacement of physical activity, (2) increased calorie consumption while watching or caused by the effects of advertising, and (3) reduced resting metabolism. [Via]
- Irregular sleep. If a child watches more than 2 hours of TV in a day, especially at night, he or she is more likely to suffer from irregular sleep patterns, troubles in going to sleep accompanied by unexplainable dreams and nightmares.
- Behavioural problems. Emotional, social and attention problems are more likely to be seen in children who watch a lot of TV.
- Apart from this, excessive TV viewing is also linked to violence, impaired academic performance and less time for play.
Recommended viewing time for children. Children under two should not be allowed to watch any TV, experts say.
Older children should watch no more than two hours a day, the researchers at the Children's Hospital and Regional Medical Centre in Seattle said. Their research in the Pediatrics journal showed that each hour in front of the TV increased a child's chances of attention deficit disorder by 10%. [Via]
Dr Dimitri Christakis, who led the study said, "TV can cause the developing mind to experience unnatural levels of stimulation. In fact you might say there's no safe level since there's a small but increased risk with each hour."
A few tips to limit screen time.
- First of all, make sure your child's bedroom doesn't have a television. Children who watch TV in their bedroom tend to watch more TV, and suffer poor grades in school tests too.
- If no one is watching, make sure the TV is never on in the background. Always remember, there is an ‘off’ button for a reason!
- Never allow unsupervised access the the TV. Children are prone to watching violent and sexual imagery and this must be kept in check.
- TV dinners should never be encouraged. When you eat while watching TV, you tend to overeat without keeping a tab on how full you are.
- When children routinely eat meals in front of the TV, they are more likely to become overweight. The odd bit of popcorn during a movie is OK, but in general don’t let your family eat meals in front of the TV.
- It is a must to set school day rules. Children tend to have limited free time during the school week, thus it is important to use video games and TV as rewards for finishing homework and chores and not as a leisure activity.
- Suggest different activities to your kids, like reading, playing a sport or trying a new board game, rather than increasing your child’s screen time for entertainment.
*Image courtesy: © Thinkstock photos/ Getty Images