Wondering how to gain more time in your day and in your life? Get out your calculator and start counting up the hours you spend in front of the television. And don’t forget to count watching videos on your smartphone in that total. Then make a decision based on the facts.
If you’re like most Americans, your household has at least two televisions, although 65% of the people in the U.S. have three or more television sets. Almost 50% of the people polled by Nielsen experts admit they watch too much television. And the average number of hours watched daily is 5.11 hours! This amount hasn’t changed much in the last four years although these are the more conservative estimates from online with some reports stating the real number is more than six hours a day.
Watching this much television per day with the conservative estimate equals 1865 hours per year, or 37,303 hours in 20 years. That means you spend about 4.25 years glued in front of the tube. What else could you have been doing with that time? Maybe exercising? Learning how to cook healthy foods? Socializing and impacting your friends’ lives and the lives of your family? Renewing your relationship spiritually? Working a part-time job?
If you spent an extra 4.25 years working at $25,000 per year, a conservative estimate of wages, you would have an extra $106,000+. What could you do with that money? TV watching lessens your potential income if you divert the time in front of the tube to a part-time job.
TV Watching Addiction Harms Kids in Other Ways
These statistics are not the worst of the picture. Children spend 900 hours each year in school, but the fact is that they are getting more education from the TV set! They watch 1200 hours of television each year, clocking in the viewing of 150,000 violent acts before the age of 18 and are programmed by 16,000 commercials each year.
Other sources report 1500 hours, not 1200 hours in front of the television, watching 200,000 violent acts by the age of 18.
Is all this television watching affecting children’s interaction with their parents? Yes, say the experts and you can see the evidence by the statistic that 54% of 4 to 6-year-olds would rather spend time watching television than spending time with their fathers.
How Excess TV Watching Affects Your Health
Similar statistics may be found in other countries, and in Australia, the problems with television watching troubled researchers who wanted to do something about it. They reported last year that watching television contributes to a loss of health. For every hour of television you watch (if you’re over the age of 25), your life expectancy falls by 21.8 minutes. That translates to cutting off just about 5 years from your life for an average of six hours a day watching television.
How does television watching make you unhealthy? First of all, it contributes to too little exercise and too much sitting time. It’s no wonder that many Americans can’t seem to work in an hour a day to get to the health club; they’re planted in front of the television set! All that sitting affects your posture, especially when you consider the lack of support for the spine from modern day furniture. It’s not surprising most Americans will have back pain when spending all this time not moving much in front of the TV.
It’s also likely that anyone watching television for hours at a time will get hungry and overeat the types of foods that aren’t wholesome. TV foods will most likely be foods high on the Glycemic Index that impact your blood sugar negatively and predispose you to develop Type 2 Diabetes. Sixty-seven percent of those who watch television will watch while eating dinner, and there aren’t any statistics on snacking but after watching commercials for soda pop, sugary cereals, and other junk foods, how likely is it that anyone would choose healthy foods?
Is Television Watching Harming Your Brain?
But there’s another negative aspect of TV watching you may not have considered. It has to do with what’s happening to your brain as you watch. There’s a concept in neurobiology called neuroplasticity, which states that your brain will continue to adapt to your environment. The neurons in your brain are constantly being pruned to allow this adaptation to occur.
This synaptic pruning could end up pruning away your good character attributes over time simply because you are watching shows that are focused on alcoholics, murderers, criminals, adulterers, liars, co-dependent behaviors, gamblers, and everything else that isn’t wholesome. The more you become familiar with these negative behaviors, the greater the chances you will become desensitized by them, simply because that’s how the brain works.
Is this really true? Well, considering that 53.8 percent of the shows on television are devoted to crime, disaster and war, what’s really happening to your brain?
The only way to find out is to fast from television. It will be difficult the first week but you may find you really do have an exciting life without the television watching.