What is it that so many people have against watching TV? After all what harm can this cute little box that looks so innocent, so relaxing and so entertaining do?
In some ways watching TV is very similar to eating sweets. It is great as long as you ‘consume’ it in small quantities. An hour in front of the TV is fun and relaxing. Two hours are still enjoyable and engaging. Three hours -and you start fidgeting on the sofa, because your body craves some activity. Four hours – and here is what happens:
1. You have less free time.
I know that spending your evening in front of a flat screen TV may be your perfect idea of entertainment, relaxation and how to spend your free time. But those 4 and a half hours daily that you watch TV add up to months and years, taking your focus away from your family, friends, health goals, and hobbies. If watching TV does not add any noticeable value to your life, it becomes a time waster.
2. You fall behind.
Every hour we spend dozing off in front of the TV, is an hour that other people use for studying, reading, exercising, writing a book, learning to play a musical instrument or creating something new. While they are improving their lives and achieving their goals, we are falling further and further behind on ours. I am not saying that we should use every second of our life efficiently. I am saying that we should use it to become a little bit happier, a little bit wiser and a little bit more compassionate. Watching TV accomplishes none of these.
3. You become less engaging.
Picture a typical modern family: mother in the kitchen, watching TV, while cooking dinner, dad in the living room, watching a soccer match or the 8 o’clock news, son in his room playing computer games or watching a new video on YouTube.
Instead of spending quality time together like we used to, we spend it in front of the TV. And it is not just my personal impression. A recent study found that when the TV is on — even if it is just in the background — parents interact less with their kids and between themselves.
4. You gain weight.
Think about watching a great movie and not munching on anything. Especially when you see all those mouthwatering commercials of grilled shrimp cooked to a crisp or layers of milk chocolate covering a Snicker bar? No wonder the latest studies have demonstrated that people who watch 3 hours of TV per day are twice as likely to become obese than those who watch it for just an hour a day. So if you would like to lose some extra weight, you might want to consider losing your TV first.
5. You become defenseless against the marketing messages.
Watching TV puts the viewer into a highly suggestive trance-like hypnotic state, which provides easy access to our subconscious and noticeably decreases your ability to critically analyze all the incoming information. This makes you an easy target for more than 50,000 TV commercials that you are exposed to in a year.
6. You spend more money on things that you do not need.
Watching over 50,000 thirty-second clips designed to make you eager to buy certain products or services, sooner or later gets to your subconscious and makes you want things that you did not need in the first place. A recent sociological study conducted by Juliet Schor showed that every additional hour of TV viewed each week increases our spending by approximately $200 per year! If you are wondering where so much of your money goes, the answer might be quite simple – you spend it on products you have seen on TV!
7. You become less empathetic.
It has been proven that violence on TV triggers similar empathetic response as seeing real-life violence. The problem is that after 3 hours of watching the main hero shooting “bad guys” or a meteorite destroying whole cities, our level of empathy and our willingness to take another person’s perspective noticeably decreases. Therefore, do not spend your compassion and sympathy on movie characters that are not even real. Better offer your help and your support to someone who is right next to you.
8. Your children learn to nag.
Children are influenced a lot more by TV commercials than adults are. Marketers are well aware of this fact and every year new marketing “Nag factor” techniques are developed to entice children to certain product and then convince their parents into purchasing it. And as it turns out nagging, whining and pleading works! According to a new national survey of youth, the average American child aged 12-17 will ask their parents for products they have seen advertised nine times until their parents finally give in.
Limiting the number of hours your children spend in front of the TV, can not only improve their health, but also save you a lot of money.
9. Your self-esteem is suffering.
Constantly seeing TV shows, movies and commercials where beautiful people drive expensive cars, stay in luxurious suites and throw celebrity parties, forces upon us the erroneous mindset that our lives ought to be filled with expensive things, perfect looks and never-ending entertainment. And that if we do not have all this, then there is something wrong with us. If lately you have been beating yourself up for gaining 5 extra pounds or suffering because you cannot afford to buy the latest iPhone, turn off your TV and go for a walk to get in touch with the real world.
10. It negatively affects your children’s health.
Scientists have noticed that watching TV is closely linked with symptoms of ADHD in young children. They may act like perfectly well-behaved zombies while watching Cartoon network, but there is a reason why the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of three should not watch any TV.
11. It distances you from community life.
It is simple. The more time you spend watching TV, the less time you have left for getting to know your neighbors, doing something together or participating in community activities.
12. Your focus and concentration decrease.
Studies have shown that watching television induces low alpha waves in the human brain that are commonly associated with relaxed meditative states. However, while Alpha waves achieved through meditation are beneficial, because they promote relaxation and insight, low Alpha wave state triggered by watching TV is similar to staring at a blank wall for several hours. It has the numbing effect of a tranquilizer on your brain, which leads to unfocussed daydreaming, drowsiness and inability to concentrate.
13. You become drunker.
To their great surprise researchers have discovered that TV may make you drink more. When it comes to drinking, we are apparently very susceptible to what we view on TV. The researchers found that men who watched films and commercials in which alcohol was prominently featured, immediately reached for a glass of beer or wine.
14. Your fears become stronger.
All the natural disaster, wars, plane crashes, terrorist attacks, and crime scenes that we see on TV, feed our fears and condition our mind to think negatively, to expect the worst, to worry about the ones we love even when there is no objective reason for it. Believe me, your life will become much more serene and joyful if you spend less time watching the evening news, thrillers and horror movies.
15. You get “hooked” on watching it!
It is not a joke. Watching TV can turn into an addiction. Think about it: the TV experience allows us to blot out the real world and enter into a pleasurable passive state. We can temporarily escape our anxieties, and worries in the colorful world of TV. But worst of all is that we might not even realize how addicted to TV viewing we really are. If you think that you can easily give up watching TV, try not turning it on for 3 days and see what happens!