It may be hard to believe that watching TV can damage our health, but there are many reasons that this is true. The obvious one is that time spent watching TV means less time spent doing physical activity, and inactivity is definitely very damaging to one’s health. Many people watch over four hours of television a day, and that is frequently in addition to sitting at work for eight hours! The more the TV time, the fatter we are. Childhood TV watching is clearly linked to childhood obesity.
Evening television disrupts sleep, as the light emitted from the television is too stimulating to our systems. So get that television out of the bedroom! Our night-time rest and repair hormones like melatonin don’t get activated if there is light flickering from the TV. And if you turn on the TV in the middle of the night, those ever-important-for-health hormones get shut off, unable to complete their overnight tasks of immune-system building and tissue repair. To get adequate repair time, we need 8 to 10 hours of complete darkness each night. Amazingly, the sleep cycles of children, even those under the age of 2, are disturbed by as little as an hour of TV a day. When children’s sleep schedules are disrupted, usually so are the parents. Poor sleep has real health consequences over time.
Television viewing is particularly unhealthy for children for a variety of reasons. Using a television set as a babysitter may seem easy and be extremely tempting, but it is important to remember that television is a form of mind control which can have a huge influence on the attitudes of children as they grow. Research has shown that children are very susceptible to television commercials, making them more materialistic than they otherwise would be, negatively affecting their food choices, making them more likely to smoke as teens and go into debt as adults, and increasing their reliance on pharmaceutical drugs. Watching television also tends to make kids more aggressive by desensitizing them to violence, and surprisingly, makes them more susceptible to injury, probably because they do not realize that an activity is risky after watching TV characters continually surviving incredibly risky behaviours.
Weaning oneself and the kids off TV is tough, but families that have managed don’t regret it. They have much more quality time with each other, improving their family relationships. They are healthier and happier, and the kids are better adjusted socially. So, either go cold turkey and get rid of the television sets in your home, or remove them from the bedrooms first, and then gradually decrease viewing times by planning other activities instead, until the TV is never on. Then get rid of it.
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