TV Addiction - What is it and How You Can Overcome It
Be honest: how many hours of TV have you watched today? Chances are that if you are reading this article it's because either you feel you might have a TV addiction or because you know someone who does.
Don't feel bad, it's not weird. TV has become a member of our family. Most families proudly display their television in the middle of everything, where it is easily accessible to everyone, and in the last years, the screen size has grown significantly to the point where we have a theatre in our living room. It's like we are building a shrine around it.
However, things do seem to be getting out of hand, and TV addiction seems to be a problem that a lot of people - children included - are dealing with. Let's see what dire effects television could have on us.
How to know if I'm addicted to watching TV?
Some people could be addicted to TV without knowing it. Let's find out if you or someone you know fit the description.
- You find yourself watching TV more than 4 hours a day
- You watch TV for solace or comfort
- You know watching TV is taking too much time out of your life but you can't seem to stop yourself.
- You cannot go more than one day without watching TV
Do you know someone with a TV addiction?
Who is at risk of becoming addicted?
Everyone who owns a television has a potential risk of becoming addicted, but there are some people that may be more prone than others:
- People with unstable moods
- People lacking initiative
- Those who feel alone or unfulfilled
- People experiencing depression
- People who are impulsive and lack self control
- Unsupervised children
It's really easy to get addicted to TV because it makes you feel completely relaxed, while passively sending you tons of stimuli. This makes it extremely hard to get back to doing what is important and what you know you're supposed to do. Your brain feels so good, almost in a hypnotic state, that it ignores that nagging voice that tells you that you should get back to your obligations.
In fact watching TV can feel so good that according to several studies, it can give you a pleasure similar to the pleasure you feel when having sex, drinking liquor or gambling.
10% of adults consider themselves TV addicts.
Risks associated with excessive TV watching
There are several risks associated with excessive tv watching. Take a look at these:
Increased risk for obesity - This shouldn't come as a surprise. The more time you spend in front of the TV, the less movement your body gets. This leads to a sedentary life style which lead to obesity.
Also, keep in mind that we tend to eat more junk food when sitting in front of the TV. So we find ourselves eating more empty calories and not burning any. So, once again, this takes us straight to diabetes and obesity town.
Increased risk for disease - Becoming a couch potato comes with a set of diseases:
- heart attacks
- cerebrovascular accidents
- arteriosclerosis (The thickening and hardening of the wall of the arteries.)
Decreased life expectancy
According to an Australian study, for every 30 minutes we spend watching tv, your life gets shortened by 11 minutes.
A person that spends an average of 6 hours a day watching tv can expect his life to decrease by 4.8 years.
Decreased academic performance
Television decreases our capacity for reasoning as well as our attention span. Thinking suddenly becomes harder and start to avoid it. You can imagine the chaos this brings to school functioning, or any other activity that involves thinking and focusing.
We stay up watching TV and we fall sleep to the sounds of our favorite show. This causes our sleep quality and quantity to decline.
Television serves you everything without you having to think or imagine much. We become accustomed to this hypnotic pattern. Before we know it we find ourselves staring into space without any sort of imaginative or creative thought.
Are you familiar with Albert Bandura's bobo doll experiment? In case you're not, here is a super quick summary:
- 2 groups of children
- 1 group sees aggression toward a bobo doll on behalf of an adult, while the other group doesn't.
- The group that sees the aggression toward the bobo doll, starts acting aggressively towards the bobo doll.
- The other group doesn't.
Conclusion: children who see violence are more likely to be violent.
Television today is filled with violence, even cartoons show mild to moderate violence. Children who spend a lot of time in front of the TV are more likely to show aggressive behaviors.
How to overcome your tv addiction?
Don't turn on your TV as soon as you get home - turning on the TV can become a reflex, we can do it without even noticing. Most people do it as soon as they get home. Don't!
Choose what shows you will watch - Be picky. Just as you are picky with your food (you wouldn't eat just anything that's on your plate, would you?), be picky with what you watch. A lot of what's on tv today is nothing but trash. Choose what shows you will watch and turn off your TV as soon as they're over.
Don't turn on the TV when eating - did you know you eat more when you eat while being distracted? So by cutting down your tv time you will also be cutting down on calories.
Say no to reruns - How many times have you watched that one Friends episode? Make it a rule that if you already watched it, you turn it off.
Use the TV as a reward - Before you award yourself the privilege of watching tv, finish something you have to do. For example:
"Before turning on the tv, I will read 5 paragraphs."
"After I finish this assingment, I will turn on the tv."
Go out - Yes! Go out and enjoy some fresh air. You will feel a lot better than just sitting there squandering your life in front of a bright screen.
Find a hobby - hobbies are great! And no, watching TV is not a hobby. Find something that will bring out your creative side. You'll free your mind and forget about watching TV.
Make the TV harder to access - Instead of giving the TV a special place in your home, place it in a room where you won't watch it as much (Hee, hee, that attic comes to mind) Yes, I know this sounds extremely impractical, but will be extremely helpful.
If you definitely can't do that, then at least hide the remote. You will see how much your TV viewing decreases by having to get up to change the channels or adjust the volume like we did in the old days.
Reserve some time for yourself - Your mind and body come before TV. So go out and exercise, try a new beauty treatment, get a massage, do a puzzle, try a new DIY project, anything to get you away from your tv addiction.
Don't give up! Keep trying, and even if the road turns hard, don't forget your goal.