Sitting down on an evening and watching a few hours of TV has been one of the most popular leisure activities for decades, since the TV became widely available to most households it took over the job of evening entertainment.
It’s totally understandable why: It’s relatively inexpensive, it’s very entertaining, it’s easy, it's educational. You can literally see and learn about the world without leaving your front room.
The statistics show that an average person, depending on the country, watches 3-5 hours of TV per day and that most households have more than 2 TV sets in average.
US adults for example watch 5 and a half hours of television per day on average.
The fact is that we spend almost a decade of our adult life watching TV.
Even since the era of black and white TV sets scientists have been questioning and examining whether watching TV affects our body, mind and behavior.
What do scientists think about our TV watching habits?
Various studies conducted over the decades of research have shown that watching TV alters brain structure and triggers various neurobiological changes, even changes the anatomical structure of the brain.
Excessive TV watching, along with its secondary effects such as an increased sedentary lifestyle can even lead to antisocial behavior and mental health problems like depression and anxiety.
Watching TV can put viewers into a highly suggestible state so that the information the viewer is exposed to downloads directly to his subconscious mind.
Now you know why you want a new vacuum cleaner so badly.
Excessive TV watching causes a person to develop a short attention span and increases the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). This happens mostly due to the frequent scene changes in modern video edits.
Modern television programs are designed to keep the viewer engaged, the amount of science behind some popular children's television shows is unbelievable, referred to as stickiness, shows are produced in a way that keeps up watching.
In 2013 a team of researchers at Tohoku University in Japan, led by neuroscientist Hikaru Takeuchi conducted a study that included 290 children aged between 5 and 18. The study was able to show that watching TV caused changes in the anatomic structure of the children’s brains.
The more TV the kids watched the bulkier the brain’s areas became which control the emotional responses, arousal, aggression and vision.
The study also showed thickening in a frontal lobe region that has been proven to lower language-based reasoning ability.
Verbal and language skills fell in proportion to the hours of TV the children watched.
While watching TV the frontal lobe becomes underdeveloped through disuse.
With underdeveloped frontal lobe you also become less able to control your behavior and outburst of uncontrollable anger and lack of self-discipline are more likely to occur.
Watching TV also reduces higher brain activity and increases the activity in lower brain regions known as the reptilian brain.
This in effect makes you less intelligent and behave on a more primitive level like an animal.
Studies have not only linked watching TV to a tendency to aggression they have even proven that too much TV in early childhood leads to a high probability of dropping out of school and even that the majority of people landing in prison have been watching much TV in their youth.
A new variable has been introduced into the research
Lately there are scientists who approach the question of the impacts of TV watching with another premise.
They assume that the inclination towards depression, anger management issues, inclination to other forms of antisocial behavior and mental problems are actually hereditary.
They believe that a genetic predisposition to behavioral and mental problems draws people to watching TV in excess.
But these thesis has yet to be proven and supported by more evidence.
What one thing can you do to improve your life? Quit watching as much TV.
No one can deny that watching TV is entertaining and even educational.
But there is also too much proof that excessive TV watching rots your brain.
If you change your habit of being a couch potato you will experience multiple benefits:
1. Improved physical and psychological balance
You won’t be constantly depressed because all those people shown on TV have such a great life and compared to them your life sucks.
You won’t be obsessed by the fact that there are so many great things which you cannot afford.
Instead you will have more time to actually have a life, making a use of things you possess.
Watching TV affects the work of hypothalamus a section in the brain responsible for the production of many essential hormones and controls the pituitary the “master gland”.
Together they tell the other glands in our body to produce hormones that affect and protect every aspect of our health.
If it comes to a disbalance in hormone production it can lead to serious physical diseases and disorders and psychological problems like depression, anxiety and behavioral issues.
Quitting TV does not only save you time to enjoy your life, but results in better physical fitness and lifts up your spirits, gives you more strength and energy to use your life in a more productive way.
2. Increase your brain power
By stopping to waste hours on gaining weight you would find time to engage yourself in other activities that can boost up your brain to work for you more efficiently.
Reading or learning languages are great brain exercises which will sharpen your mind.
Spend more time socializing and talking to other people. This will improve your oral communication skills and help you to build up a network of social connections.
To upgrade your vocabulary and language skills you can try writing a blog, diary, or maybe a book.
Engage yourself with educational activities, like taking an evening class. You can gain a higher university degree or learn new skills.
Quitting TV is beneficial for your brain and increases the quality of your life
When you spend less time watching TV and engage yourself with other activities you contribute to a better mental health, you also increase your concentration and attention span.
In order to develop your brain needs to strain.
If you choose to spend your time more efficiently engaging yourself with activities contributing to boost up your brain you will find yourself in situations that will improve both your personal and professional life.
Maybe you will be more concentrated on noticing the right opportunity to get promoted?
Maybe you will learn skills that will help you to start a second job and get you a solid income stream?
Or you will take on a major project you were always dreaming off? Like making this adventure trip which could lead you to writing a blog about adventurous destinations.
Or you just will improve your social life and get more fulfilled by doing so.
If you consider the entire range of possibilities that can open to you, spending less time on watching TV certainly pays off both psychologically and physically.
Written by Marcus www.psysci.co