Television Addiction - What is it?
It is noted that the average person spends about three hours a day sitting in front of the TV set, which is half of their leisure time. And, it is known that heavy viewers report watching eight hours a day. The question is, “Are these people addicted to the television?”
First, let’s define an addiction. It is said that addiction is characterized by spending an unusually large amount of time using a substance that is addictive; finding oneself using it more often than intended; thinking about reducing the use, and are making repeated unsuccessful attempts to reduce it; giving up social activities to use the substance, and reporting withdrawal symptoms when one does achieve stopping the use.
Television can teach and amuse, and it does provide needed distraction and escape. Yet, the difficulty arises when one strongly senses the need to stop viewing as much, and yet find they are unable to reduce viewing.
Television Addiction - What are the Effects?
In 1997, 700 Japanese children were rushed to a hospital to be treated with epileptic seizures. These seizures were later attributed to a program which was aired that involved an exaggerated version of the Pokemon game that had flashing colorful lights.
Laboratory experiments1 have also been done to study people’s reactions to TV by monitoring brain waves by the use of EEG (electroencephalograph). Those who participated in the study carried a beeper. They were signaled six to eight times a day randomly over the period of a week. When they heard the beep, they were to write down what they were doing and how they were feeling. People who were watching TV when beeped reported feeling relaxed and passive. The studies showed less mental stimulation as measured by alpha brain-wave production during viewing TV than if these participants had been reading. After the television set was turned off, this study showed the participants were still very relaxed and passive as if all energy had left them.
This suggests1 that TV viewing has a numbing effect, and reaction to the body is likened to that of a tranquilizer. Drowsiness occurs, and one may even experience depression as the viewing continues. A person actually disengages from real life becoming immersed in what is being shown on the screen which, in turn, causes excessive viewing; more so than anticipated in the beginning.
Television Addiction - How to Avoid It
Is there hope from becoming struck with television addiction? Yes, start here.
- Keep a record of how much TV you watch and when you watch. Do this for one week.
- List all the other fun activities you can do at home instead of watching TV. Place your list on your refrigerator so you can check this list BEFORE you turn on the TV. Consider fun things to do as a family, household projects you’d like to complete, outside activities, reading, exercise, etc.
- Set a limit for how much TV you will watch in one week. Record your time and stick to your commitment.
- Commit to exercising whenever you watch TV, such as walking on a treadmill, riding a stationary bike, etc.
- Consider removing your TV for a set period of time. You might find yourself talking to your family again instead of watching the TV so much.
Television Addiction – A Personal Story of Surrender
One day, I realized that everywhere I went, there was a TV -- the grocery store, my workout gym, the bank, my church, the airport, repair shops, doctors offices, and many rooms of my own home. My family room had even been renamed the TV room. Where could I go to escape it?
I decided to do something about it. My family did not have to suffer from television addiction any longer. When my family moved to a new city recently, we deliberately did not bring the TV with us. Our friends and family thought we were crazy, but it was an important step for our family. The housing development we moved into offered a new beautiful TV to our family, but I declined. As the husband and father of our family, I wanted to take a stand and show my children that they meant more to me than TV.
The past few years, the violence and objectionable content has gotten worse and I felt that our family needed a break. I felt as though TV had hijacked my family and I wanted to protect my children from television addiction.
The solution that worked for my family -- I got rid of our television! The result has been more family time and healthier relationships.
This family decided that giving up their TV was the best solution for them. What is your solution? Don’t delay. Set some guidelines and stick to your commitments.
Consider these verses as encouragement to stick to your commitments and discern what is appropriate for your family:
Matthew 5:28: "But I tell you that anyone who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart."
Romans 12:2: "Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God's will is - His good, pleasing and perfect will."
Philippians 4:8: "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable - if anything is excellent or praiseworthy - think about such things."
1 Thessalonians 5:21-22: "Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.”
1 Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi -- Dr. Kubey is a professor at Rutgers University and Director of the Center for Media Studies. Dr. Csikszentmihalyi is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
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