TV Addict

The Awful Truth About Television: TV watching can become an addiction

Push a button to feel relaxed

When you turn on the TV, you become relaxed almost instantaneously. The quickness of the relaxation can condition you to associate TV with relaxation. As long as you are watching TV, you will stay relaxed.

Scientific American researchers, Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi, also found that this feeling of relaxation ends as soon as the TV is turned OFF, reinforcing the TV=relaxation association. They compare it to a drug in terms of its relaxation effect.

TV is like a tranquilizing drug

With drugs, the faster a drug leaves the body, the more addictive it is. "A tranquilizer that leaves the body rapidly is much more likely to cause dependence than one that leaves the body slowly, precisely because the user is more aware that the drug's effects are wearing off.” Similarly, if viewers sense that they will feel less relaxed if they turn off the TV, they may be more likely to leave it on. This can grow into a dependency over time, as viewers increasingly turn to the television screen in order to relax.

Side effects of TV

TV puts your brain into a passive, suggestible, alpha brain wave state. The left side of the brain largely shuts down and critical thinking diminishes. Viewers feel drained and have difficulty focusing. These side effects continue after the viewer turns the TV off.

Therefore, when you click the ON button on your TV, you may soon feel relaxed, but you will also feel the side effects of passivity, suggestibility, and difficulty concentrating. When you turn off the TV you will stop feeling pleasantly relaxed, and you will still experience the negative side effects. This is a formula for an addiction.

TV withdrawal symptoms

Another sign that TV is addictive is that people often feel withdrawal symptoms when they try to go for long periods without watching TV. Many viewers may feel anxious for a time as they try to adjust to living without TV’s relaxing effects.

According to Charles Winick, who analyzed numerous studies of people trying to give up TV, "The first three or four days for most persons were the worst, even in many homes where viewing was minimal and where there were other ongoing activities. In over half of all the households, during these first few days of loss, the regular routines were disrupted, family members had difficulties in dealing with the newly available time, anxiety and aggressions were expressed.... People living alone tended to be bored and irritated."

Are you addicted to TV?

An addiction can make it difficult to control TV watching. Naturally, some people are more susceptible to the addictive effects of TV than others are. Are you addicted to TV? Can you and your family turn off the TV for three days and leave it off? Try it and find out.

About 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series:

What happens when the average American spends 4 hours 32 minutes every day watching television? Trash Your TV's 'The Awful Truth About Television' Series explores the multifaceted problems with TV in eleven hard-hitting articles. Read the full series and you will never look at your television set the same way again.

Katherine Westphal is the founder of Trash Your TV! and the author of a revolutionary e-book system, The TV-FREE System. Get in control of your TV watching and create the life you want, whether it is to create the body, the mind, the business, the family, or the community of your dreams.

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