Why Watching TV Is A Health Risk


We might think of watching TV as a relaxing end to the day.But too much TV can be counterproductive.

For those of us who can remember back to the 1960s, TV was a special event. Our weekend home in CT boasted two working channels and many hours where there were, well, no shows on at all!

Fast forward to our day and age where we can get almost any content on demand from our computers and on TV. A recent cable TV provider told me my package included 350 channels, two movie channels, the possibility to take shows and play them later (lest I was away from the TV for anything urgent...), and high speed internet (to make sure I could download all the videos I'd want to see...)

But is too much TV bad for you? Here are some points to consider:

  • One study showed that kids who watched more than 2 hours a day between the ages of 5 and 15 were more likely to have high cholesterol, reduced fitness, and were at higher risk for diabetes as adults. Since TV usually is a seated activity, and often accompanied by snacking, the above should come as no surprise.
  • TV viewing has been linked to lower sperm count in men, up to half the amount of normal levels. In comparison, those who do vigorous exercise have up to 73% higher than those who exercise less than 5 hours per week.
  • Watching drama, adventure, science fiction, soap operas and similar can make anyone's life seem drab in comparison. Exessive time spent in these other worlds can lead to feeling empty in one's own life. Where we may have formerly spent time out in nature, time with family playing a game, learning, doing hobbies or helping others, we can get over-involved in fantasy.
  • Children can suffer, too: In one report, children who watched more than two hours of TV a day at age 3 were twice as likely to develop symptoms of asthma by age 11 as those who watched less.
  • TV depictions can put excess strain on your marriage. The more realistic you find depictions of TV romance, the less likely you are to be wholly committed to your actual marriage. Plus, you’re also more likely to see marriage as a burden.
  • TV can over-simplify characters and role models, whereas real life is much more complicated and nuanced. Watching less TV and tuning into the people and places around you can help you to become more even-tempered, realistic, patient and affectionate.

There is a time and pace for TV in our lives and select programs can contribute to knowledge via news and educational documentaries. For those of us who may never see sharks in the sea or a blastoff to the moon, a royal wedding or political debate live, this medium has its place in our modern lifestyle.

To find a good balance, don't use TV as a way to escape or just pass the time. Research the shows you want to watch and treat it like a date with a beginning, a middle and an end, just as you would any other appointment. When the show is over, turn off the TV and walk away. Limit TV and screen time in your home and watch your 'real' life blossom!