Many studies have proven that television may cause physical and mental issues. According to Lilian Cheung, director of health promotion and communication for the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, watching TV causes many health problems. As a result of her studies, she reports, “There’s convincing evidence in adults that the more television people watch, the more likely they are to gain weight or become overweight or obese. And, there is emerging evidence that too much TV watching also increases the risk of weight-related chronic diseases, such as type 2 diabetes.”
Watching TV has never been linked to improving one’s health, but most claim it helps them enhance their mind. According to a study published on PsycNet, television generates less brain activity than glancing at an advertisement in a magazine. The more TV a person watches, the less a person’s brain has to work. In a sense, it becomes numb. Watching shows about finance, animals, science, and news is educational, but as proved in multiple studies, the brain absorbs more information by reading rather than watching television programs.
To prove how television may cause physical and mental issues, a study team from Harvard University gave a control group alternative options to replace their TV time. For three months, this group was asked to listen to audio books about something they wanted to learn. They were also asked to take a walk or clean the house while they listened. The information learned by those who moved while listening showed better retention and reported a stronger focus in other areas of their life. Additionally, many of the test subjects also reported a significant loss of unwanted weight. Moreover, reduced blood pressure occurred and many other health conditions improved within the test group.
CNN reports that the average American spends more than five hours a day watching TV. This average is close to double the amount of television time in Europe. People who watch two or more hours of television, per day, have a higher percentage of health problems including,
- heart conditions
- brain fog
- low metabolisms
Children who watch two or more hours of TV per day also contract these common ailments typically associated with age. Many of these children are developing arthritis and degenerative bone diseases. They also have poor attention spans and hindered creativity. The Academy of Pediatrics reports that watching TV often takes the place of two very important aspects in child development, such as physical activity and social interaction. Children are also easily influenced by advertisements, which often promote unhealthy eating habits and violent tendencies.
Cathy Milne-Ware had this to say about television and her grandchildren, “I am appalled when I view with my pre-school grandson, age four, that even cartoons targeted at his age group can be violent. Furthermore, he and his seven-year-old brother are constantly acting out what they see on TV.”
Older people who watch over two hours of television per day have more brain-related issues than their more active peers. For instance, people who read more and exercise retain better brain functionality, as well as have better overall health. Instead of watching an hour of TV, experts suggest a walk or playing cards with friends. These activities may result in an overall improvement in health.
CNN reports that people who watch TV just before going to bed tend not to sleep as deeply as those who read before bedtime. A better alternative is to read something positive or inspiring.
It is not easy to stop watching television, but it is possible. PsycNet suggests cutting out an hour of television per day and replacing it with something else, such as reading, walking, writing, completing a puzzle, or starting a new project. NBC News suggests listening to audio books while doing chores or exercising.
There is increasing evidence that television may cause physical and mental issues, so it might be time to make a few changes. This could include starting a new project, which has been sitting on the back burner, or getting re-acquainted with family and friends.
By Rowena Portch
Edited by Cathy Milne
Harvard School of Public Health: Binge-Watching TV May Harm Health
NBC News: Binge-Watch House of Cards Valentines Day at Your Own Risk
MedLine Plus: Television Watching
PsycNet: Brain-activity responses to magazine and television
Featured Photo Courtesy of WikiMedia Commons – Creative Commons License