"To consider television as habit forming ("addictive" from other section of the book) is an understatement.
…television’s route to harm is more covert...
Television is a cultural force equaled in history only to religion…
The link between watching television and physical and psychological damage is neither a concoction nor an exaggeration."
link between television and ADHD
diminishing attention span
Television Adversely Affects Academic Performance of Children
Watching excessive amounts of television or television with violent or inappropriate content can result in the following with children:
decrease in academic achievement
Television viewing among children under three
damages future learning abilities
reading comprehension in later childhood
actually [may damage] the child’s rapidly developing brain
Children who have televisions in their bedrooms at ages eight and nine achieve the worst scores in school achievement tests [24b] "Significant long-term damage occurred even as so-called ‘modest levels’ of television viewing: between one and two hours per day....the overall educational value of television viewing was low..."
...television has become ‘the background noise’ for a generation of children.
Boston Children’s Hospital at Harvard Medical School wrote: "Ultimately, parents must reclaim from television the responsibility for educating and entertaining their young children.”
Other Problems Resulting from television
Television and Eyesight
The Effects on Child Development
Links to Early Puberty
- [Sigman notes that the increase in sexual images on television may result in early sexual maturity of girls] “in the same way that food stimulates salivation.” [and that, from later section of book,…TV viewing could have “effects on sexual behavior” at large, based on the evidence that he presents]. [Television] “is hot-housing young libidos and adolescent intercourse."
… ‘Say “No” to Teletubbies’, by Dr. Alvin Poussaint, one of America’s preeminent child psychiatrists at Harvard Medical School, and his colleague Dr. Susan Linn.
[Television is the] “opposite of what toddlers need for their development.”
Recommendation: “Television viewing should be postponed as long as possible.”
…most of the stories are told to most of the children not by their parents, their school, or their church, but by a group of distant corporations that have something to sell.
‘the television is almost like a member of the family in its own right’.”
...content aside, the medium alone causes powerful irreversible changes to a child either directly or by displacing other critical experiences...
The last nation on earth to introduce television: Bhutan
MTV body language is spreading through the younger generation.
[Sigman describes a report by the American Psychiatric Association indicating and increasing of psychiatric drugs use after 9/11. The reason cited is that Americans watched the events over and over on television. Prescriptions for antidepressants, antipsychotics and tranquilizers rose due to the “indirect experience” of this “stressful event”.]
Television’s tranquillizing effect
When cable television was introduced…adults and children...
became less creative in problem solving
less able to preserver at tasks
Effect of the medium itself.
Reading Versus Watching Television
It is precisely the flat, impersonal, unentertaining text that produces the neurological and intellectual benefits in reading as opposed to watching television. Reading leads you to actively manage knowledge, to follow a line of thought, which means classifying, making inferences, reasoning, weighing up ideas, connecting on generalisation to another – You are forced to stand back at a slight distance and analyse and interpret…
Television Effects [family and other] Relationships
loss of social skills
It separates people:
Sexually [hence Viagra]
Is Television Relaxing?
Survey participants commonly reflect that television has somehow absorbed or sucked out their energy, leaving them depleted.
more difficulty concentrating after viewing
Improvements of mood or engaging in hobbies improved mood, by contrast.
‘Viewing begets more viewing…people watch a great deal longer than they plan to, even tough prolonged viewing is less rewarding.’ … The medium of television does not lend itself to being watched in moderation. ….’a rare group who use television selectively.’
[Sigman observes what authors of the AYCNP have also noted that the first few days without television are the most difficult but that within two weeks, television and other screen time is displace dby more positive pro-social activities].
[Sigman notes that there the medium itself is “habit-forming”. It stimulates dopamine in the brain, which is at the core of a number of addictions. We are “chemically rewarded” by watching television” and become “neurochemically dependent” on television. He compares Roman times with “bread and circuses to placate the masses with the television today and notes damage “irrespective of the content,” but as a result of the nature of the medium itself].
Television and Violence
[Both “copycat” violence and more “benign” forms of violence on television are noted, “indirect” violence as a result of watching television].
Mid-1970s study conducted by the University of British Columbia, Canada:
When television was introduced to one remote village, within two years
160 percent increase of violent incident among boys and girls
No increase in violence with nearby towns with no television (control group)
[Reading, by contrast, provides “cognitive stimulation,” helping the brain to develop intellectually and emotionally.]
links to bullying and fighting (children)
Stanford University…. [without television] 50 per cent reduction in verbal aggression
Indirect aggression associated with 92% of television programmes popular with British youth [both physical and verbal].
[Sigman notes that sports on television has been largely overlooked as a cause of violence. and refers to] "unbridled self-expression through myriad role models in reality television, noting soap operas [novellas], chat shows and sporting events...
Television is [linked with] …Obesity
Television and Depression – The News
[Heavy television viewers are generally “less happy” and that depression is an “increasing function of television viewing.’" ]
“…increasing gap between reality and expectations raised by vague, ambient, emotive images over time.”
…television acts as a false reflection of the outside world. ...we are bathed in images of beautiful, dynamic, influential people. When compared subconsciously with our self-image, these make us feel bad and set us up for bouts of depression.
...less television [would]...result in a decrease in the prevalence of depression.
[…British study:] watching negative news clips on television...increases their negative mood. Therefore, watching a troubling news broadcast, which is the norm, leads to greater worry and a sadder mood.
Psychologists such as Dr. Erik Peper point out that viewing such a high volume of international and domestic tragedy and despair cultivates a passive do-nothing attitude when confronted with needs and problems. We develop a form of learned helplessness, which undermines our capacity to deal with our own needs and problems. Even watching the news day after day tends to induce a non-reactive attitude, as a protective mechanism.
television portrays life as having quick resolution to all kinds of issues
Other Ways Television Causes Depression
…watching television displaces time we need to spend in our ‘inner landscape’. We need time to carry out some basic emotional housekeeping: processing, integrating and filing feelings, perceptions and thoughts, with or without our awareness. And this lack of attention to our own inner life can ultimately cause depression.
Inactivity and Depression
sedentary nature of watching television
television is the antithesis of physical movement.
(Watching the Discovery Channel is not the same as going for a walk in the park).
[Television, then, Sigman links with depression, which is linked with suicide]
Body Image, Eating Disorders and Depression
The outside world has become an abstraction filtered by television.
Channels that are specifically for children’s cartoons [and “music videos] are generally bad for children, as cartoons have higher rates of editing, and event changes… Watching a screen can become a habit for your child. Help them find other things to do with their time….reading; playing; activities with family, friends or neighbours; learning a hobby, sport an instrument or an art.
[Television has resulted in an increase in disrespect of children and youth towards adults] …violence on television, its close relative, disrespect, has flourished…unhealthy equality with, or disrespect towards, adults. [Hannah Montana show, all Disney TV, network television] …the cultivation of disrespect is insidious and cumulative.
Watching the Television News
…have to see the news in order to be visually informed of ‘what’s happening in the world.’ Question this assumption! It is not necessary to watch the night-time news in order to be ‘well—informed’. …bathe you in snippets of information but actually leave you less well-informed [Read a national newspaper and news magazines for your news actually keeps you better informed, is gentler on the mind and psyche, and allows you to be more discerning].
· Television news increases anxiety
· Materialism in advertising- [message from Sigman that children are affected by advertising materialism is a predominant message of television advertising]
…TV Turnoff Network encouraging people to live the ‘low-TV lifestyle’...
Getting rid of your television should not be considered extreme. You are immediately doubling the amount of free time you have and, after a short period of time, you are very unlikely to miss it. Many people think they can be a discerning viewer, but simply can’t, and this may well be the best solution.
more calmness possible
stimulates imagination and creativity
more resilience to anxiety and stress
[We can reduce “the amount and intensity of stimulation we consume”….by taking into our senses “free greenery”.]
[When the author stopped his own young children from watching television, he allowed them only an occasional video, the children were never bored, but they kept themselves “perfectly busy” with little adult help. Children easily adapt without the TV in their room or lives.]
Free Greenery Instead of Television
[American Journal of Public Health recommends greenery as a possible therapy for ADHD]
Sigman recommends “free greenery, which improves
children’s mental abilities
…mindless entertainment [on television]
[Sigman recommends to]
turn off the television more frequently
savour your time with your children
find a way to give to others, strangers or relatives
Socially connected people are less prone to stress.
[This is made more possible without television].
Pages Related to Life Without Television
Psychology Book Review
- Remotely Controlled: How Television is Damaging Our Lives and What We Can Do About It, by Aric Sigman
Book Synopsis - Living Without the Screen
: Causes and Consequences of Life without Television
Ideas to Help Children
Develop Skill and Interest in Art
Life Without Television
Can Have Psychological Benefits