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Is Watching TV Good or Bad for You?

Cynthia is a digital marketer, writer, and artist. She writes about a variety of topics, especially digital marketing, languages & culture.

A couple weeks ago, I asked the question, "Does TV dull the mind?" I was surprised at all the answers I received as well as the number of people who don't think it dulls the mind. I thought for sure I'd get more "Of course" responses.

I wanted to delve into this topic because I often have this discussion with my significant other. We went for a year without TV at all (and just rented movies and documentaries). We had just moved into our new house in the country and we couldn't even get a landline to the house. We have no reception for any channels—at all—without cable or satellite. We just live too far out in the mountains where antenna signals don't reach.

Finally, we were able to get satellite TV after calling cable companies, and getting a very large, very unsightly antenna that did not work. For three years we had satellite. Then, after having many discussions with friends and family, we decided to go without satellite for six months and see if we could do without television (and go back to renting online DVDs). We had several reasons for doing so.

Save Money: No Satellite Bill

The first reason was to save money. We looked at our monthly bill and multiplied it by 12. What we pay for satellite entertainment alone is around $750 per year. That's a lot, especially given the fact that we don't watch TV that much.

The second reason was that we felt like we would have more time to do other things. In theory that was the case, but what often happened is that we would read and fall asleep earlier.

The third reason was to shut out some of the chaos from modern daily life. The house certainly got quiet. I love the quiet. Sometimes, though, the quiet was too quiet. I'd often hop online and put on some music to break up the silence. I'd listen for awhile and then turn everything off to enjoy the silence again.

The reception from radio stations wasn't always reliable. We felt that TV was really a tool to help us know what was going on locally and globally. Furthermore, like many people who answered in the questions, I like the Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, History, and The Learning Channel. I wanted my educational shows back. Furthermore, the only internet service that actually works where we live doesn't allow you to download entire movies, unless you want to pay mega-bucks.

One evening, my poor husband looked at me and said, "Next on TV folks, is the girl typing incessantly at her computer." He looked back down at his book and fell asleep within minutes.

I felt bad: I was hogging the computer and the only thing he could do was read books. Eek. Somewhat ironic, too.

It was an experiment of sorts. But in the end, though, we decided to get satellite back. Waiting for online DVDs to arrive in the mail sometimes left us sitting in silence and other times we would need to hear news reports of school closings due to weather and the like.

So, TV Has Its Positives?

Yes, we decided to go back to our satellite service after a six-month hiatus. We needed information that we couldn't get from the internet. Plus, while it's always nice to have music on in the background while making dinner, I admit an episode of Seinfeld on in the background is always a mood-lifter.

Furthermore, the local news does provide local weather forecasts, traffic reports and useful information about school closures. I headed out to school twice when we didn't have TV only to arrive and find it closed.

Still, around 9 pm when you're too tired from working, making dinner, and cleaning up, you don't quite want to go to bed and you don't exactly want to delve elbow-deep into your hobby. It's nice to turn on the TV for 30 minutes to an hour. That's not too bad, is it?

Though we have satellite TV, we acknowledge some real reservations about television.

There are always the questions:

  • Does TV make you think less?
  • Does it contribute to ADHD?
  • Because there's so much violence, does TV contribute to societal violence?
  • Does it contribute to stress?

TV Definitely Has Some Negatives

I am no scientist, but if I were to go by my observations, here are some of the negative aspects about television:

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Apparently, the average American adolescent watches 22 - 28 hours of TV weekly. If they continue those habits into adulthood, that amounts to 7-10 years they've spent watching TV by the time they reach age 70 according to Turn off Your TV. That is a serious amount of time sitting in front of the tube.

It can make you feel bad about yourself. You watch TV and in the programs, everyone has nice clothes, nice cars, nice jobs, nice houses, nice furniture, and even perfect food. Then you end up watching ads about the same stuff. You feel bad that you don't have it, so you work harder to buy more. Then you watch more TV and the cycle begins again. I'm here to tell you, I personally try my hardest to not participate in that cycle of thinking.

It's hypnotic. You stare and you forget about the world around you. It's almost like a drug because you can tune out the world and tune in to the program you're watching. That can be good if you do need to zone out, but every single day? Really?

I believe it contributes to ADHD. Like I said, I'm no scientist, but I grew up getting muddy and playing outside. My mother never let me watch too much TV. I read and traveled and studied. Now, I'm a teacher and I ask my students, "what do you do when you get home?" The answer is almost always "watch TV". A lot of these same students have ADHD and even tend to be heavy - because they're sitting and not getting the exercise they need (there are a lot of other things going on here that contribute, too, but that's beyond the scope of this hub). Maybe there's an absolute connection; maybe not. But, I can say that I'm pretty sure TV-watching and ADHD and even weight gain are related.

It's violent. I think it contributes to a culture of fear. You may recall every summer the news talks about shark attacks. Out of the millions of people who frequent hundreds of thousands of miles of coastlines around the world, you are going to have one or two people venture off and get some shark mad enough for them to attack. But, how many millions of people won't swim in the ocean because they fear a shark attack? How many people know that you have a greater chance of being struck by lightning than by getting attacked by a shark?

The violence rubs off in society in general. Don't take my word for it. Look at Vision of Humanity and see where the US ranks on the Peace Index. It's not good. I remember traveling to Spain a few years ago. Never once was I scared to walk the streets of downtown Madrid (population 5 million-ish) at two a.m. in the morning. Sure, there were pickpockets, but I wasn't ever scared that someone would come after me with a knife or any other weapon. But in the States, even in a small city, I would never do that.

Final Thoughts on the Pros and Cons of Television

If TV is used judiciously, it can be a great tool to finding out useful news and information. Inspiring movies and hearing about things like the peaceful revolution in Egypt to overturn their leader are great uses for TV programming.

However, when it's used to "fill in" time, entertain children for hour after hour, without any reflective thought, I believe it can be a dangerous tool that contributes to degradation of morals and an increase in violence among other things.

Furthermore, I know from my own experience that I simply cannot start my day with news. If the first thing I see when I get up are stories about robberies or homicides, I can tell you, I go about my day more stressed than if I start out with some meditation.

© 2012 Cynthia Calhoun


Joe Billy Bob on April 09, 2013:

It dependes on what show u r watching.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on March 06, 2013:

Well said, Jlboogades. I echo your sentiments wholeheartedly. It even happens online. I do a lot of blogging and I find that sometimes it's hard to swallow the idea that people have so many things and they talk about all the stuff they have...and yes, it leads to the "consumer envy" - very cogent thoughts. Thank you. :)

Justin Boogades from Lynchburg, VA on March 05, 2013:

Hello "CC" (hope that's ok),

I definitely agree with your sentiments and I have researched many studies that agree with the correlations between excessive television watching and stress, lack of concentration, violent and fearful behavior, and of course "consumer envy". One of the few areas of what I am studying in school actually pays well: Consumer Psychology.

It's sad that capitalism has come to that but as the last comment suggests, there is always more than one side to everything. It seems evident that television is no exception to the old adage: Everything in moderation. And I agree that using it properly is wise for those who would discern the needs of their own psychological and mental health.

What saddens me is that many people do not realize that they are being manipulated by an enormous system of consumption 'based' information that is infiltrating their society, homes, and even their children to be a good consumer and buy things that Larry the Cable Guy admits "we didn't even know we wanted" (don't need is more like it). I guess that is what places like this are for, "Viva la resistance".

tariq umeed on January 20, 2013:

there is no denying the fact that every things got two sides positive and negative. Likewise if we use tv in positive way so it can give us lot of imformation about anything............

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on July 31, 2012:

Girishpuri - indeed, balance is a must with regard to TV, especially when you get enrichment from it. I like the Discovery Channel, too, as well as National Geographic and the Science Channel. Hehe, I'm sort of a geek like that. :)

Girish puri from NCR , INDIA on July 31, 2012:

positive, negative are two different sides of coin, only a bit of balance is must, TV is good and i believe pluses are more if you watch channels like discovery. nice hub

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on June 09, 2012:

Alex - hey there! Thanks for coming by. Sorry about the "long" approval - I didn't realize your comment went into my "spam" comments for some reason. You are very correct. Thanks for coming by again. :)

Alex Jose from Cleveland, Ohio on May 30, 2012:

Really watching TV is good in some way, it can even turn bad specially for the youngsters i believe. Basically if you do not keep an eye on them or so. Well very interesting hub and so voted up as useful.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on May 25, 2012:

mottiandbander - yes, I like a good TV show now and then. :) Thanks for stopping by.

mottiandbander from Chd on May 25, 2012:

I have a sansui television and i love all the shows. Specially the discovery shows...

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 06, 2012:

I agree, Vinaya. Now, the question is...what constitutes a good thing? Hehehe. Thanks for stopping by. :)

Vinaya Ghimire from Nepal on February 06, 2012:

Television watching is good as long as we watch good things. Your views are very interesting.

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 06, 2012:

Yes, I have mine, too. No, I couldn't give it up totally. I suppose if I wanted to be a monk, then I might, but as an average citizen, well, I think I'll do better to have one. Thanks for stopping by, alocsin. :)

Cynthia Calhoun (author) from Western NC on February 06, 2012:

Thanks, Alecia. Yeah, I have a sort of love/hate relationship with my television. Hehe. I always feel guilty if I spend too much time watching. Thanks so much for stopping by, Alecia. :)

Aurelio Locsin from Orange County, CA on February 06, 2012:

Like anything, TV can be a positive or negative thing. But I think the former outweighs the latter, so I still have it in the house. Voting this Up and Useful.

Alecia Murphy from Wilmington, North Carolina on February 06, 2012:

I agree with your assessment about television. It's not pure evil but it doesn't always bring out the best in people. To me, I can watch TV and not know what's going on. A lot of times, it is background noise for when I write or do something else. However, it doesn't help build a healthy non-sedentary lifestyle either. However, whatever someone does in front of and alongside their television is their business, not mine. Great, insightful hub!

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