Obesity is often cited as one of the top negative health effects of television. Hours spent sitting in front of the tube instead of exercising take an obvious and noticeable toll on heavy viewers. But this is just one of television's health effects. Subtle changes can occur in your brain along with those pronounced changes to your physique.
Television and Your Brain
According to a report by the International Child and Youth Care Network, neuroscientists have determined that the brain develops thinking habits from what we regularly experience. The more time you spend passively watching television and receiving sensory input in a relaxed, passive and semi-hypnotic state, the more your brain will be trained to receive information that way. Once the brain learns to respond to this method of getting information, the classroom environment becomes an unfamiliar way to learn, socializing and personal relationships become more difficult and creativity is impaired. TV is simply bad for the brain.
Negative health effects from television can be seen in the rise in Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children. The quick pace of television shows actually rewires the brain to accept information only in short chunks, thus reducing an individual's attention span. For this reason, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children under the age of two be kept away from television entirely. Older kids should watch no more than two hours of television per day.
An excess of passive brain activity from television watching can also affect sleeping patterns. In adults, memory loss and poor sleep have been attributed to habitual television watching.
Your brain produces endorphins when you watch television, which have a relaxing and pleasant effect. This leads to withdrawal when television is removed. Help the brain develop normally by reducing or eliminating mindless and excessive television viewing. Replace the time with interactive and creative activities, such as games, hobbies and physical activity.
Television and Your Body
Hours spent watching television reduce the time you can spend on physical activities. Physical activity is vital for health, blood circulation, muscle development and metabolism. None of these are stimulated by passive television watching.
Sitting passively instead of engaging in physical activity leads to lower metabolism and could lead to unhealthy weight gain. In addition, commercials and product placements on television promote junk food, which further increases the problem.
Limit television time and replace it with physical activity, either outdoors or indoors. Kids should get 60 minutes a day of physical play. It's a smart idea for parents as well.
Cable television can bring a world of unsettling images into your home. Fortunately, there are easy ways to limit what your child can see.
Many parents want to curb their children's TV time, but aren't sure how to go about it, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP).