It is estimated that a person spends 3 hours a day on an average in front of television. This amount is calculated as half the amount of leisure time. It is known that heavy viewers are reported to watch approximately 8 hours a day. Television addiction is characterized by spending large amount of time in front of television. The individual finds himself in a situation where he/she will be using the addicted substance more often than intended. Television can teach us a lot of things in the form of amusement. When the person senses the need to stop viewing television, they find out unable to view.
In this post, I will help you know what exactly TV addiction is, causes of TV addiction, signs, effects and preventive measure to overcome TV addiction.
What is TV Addiction?
Television is one of the powerful means of communication. Due to extensive availability of telephone, internet and satellite channels – it is very difficult to keep technology away from our lives. Television was started for public purpose to offer a relaxing time and useful information to people of all age groups. Some people argue that television does not always have a good effect on people because it obstructs communication between people. Television provides a rich topic to talk about and mingle with others.
Here I am not telling you to stop watching television altogether. Television is beneficial in limited doses. However, it is harmful when it interferes with day to day activities and ability to learn new things. Though television will provide a short-term escape from real life, it will keep you locked within it. Instead of using time and energy to deal with problems, many people waste time on television.
What are the Signs of TV Addiction?
Everyone in this world love spending time watching TV, as it is relaxing and fun. If you think that you are loyalty to TV shows, it means television is interfering in your life to a great extent. Staying in relaxing mood is a necessary thing. However, if your favorite shows start to scoop other areas of life, it means you are addicted to television. Here are some of the signs if TV addiction that you should watch for –
1. You are highly excited to watch next episode
When your favorite show ends up at an excited moment and you can’t wait to watch the next episode, it means you are addicted to TV. There is nothing unusual to think about the characters you love. However, if you find that your thoughts are constantly juggling between the episodes — you are on the path of addiction. If you have ever faced such situation, you should fill up your time with things that are no way related to TV. Enjoy the characters, but don’t let it remain in your mind all the time.
2. Cancelled important plans to watch TV show
Have you ever felt immense pleasure in cancelling an important program to watch TV show? If yes, it’s a sign of TV addiction. It is always a good idea to stay relaxed at home without any worries. You should re-valuate your priorities to maintain a right balance between work and leisure activities. If you ever get into the thought of cancelling important meetings just to watch your favourite show, it means you are in deep trouble.
3. Use TV as a tool to cope up with problems
Many people use TV as a medium to deal with their problems such as – depression, loneliness, etc. It is easier to sit in couch and watch TV for hours, rather than dealing with the problem. Try to figure out what is bothering you, rather than drowning it with constant noise. Limit the TV time to an hour and notice what kind of emotions come up. You have to look for ways to manage your feelings by talking to a counsellor or therapist.
4. Lack of non-TV hobbies
We see a lot of people saying “watching TV is my hobby”. Well, this is not a hobby — but just time pass. Life is too short and one should not spend it on someone else’s reality. Remember that you have to come out of the couch to create your own life. This is possible only by staying away from TV. If you don’t have any hobby other than watching TV, it’s time to get into a new hobby.
5. Irregular sleep schedule
Is TV disturbing your sleep cycle? If yes, you should stay committed to watch TV for a certain period. Watching TV for long hours has a negative effect on your thinking and behavioral patterns. The electric activity in your brain increases and neutrons start to race, as you watch TV for long period at night. Don’t watch TV to go into sleep. Turn off the TV an hour before going to the bed and try to shut your eye in dark.
6. Starting and ending the day with TV
You can really be addicted to TV, if you are starting and ending the day with TV. If you turn to TV as soon as you wake up or do not fall asleep without watching TV, it is a sign that you are addicted. Try to get back the silence in to your life by starting and ending the day without TV. You can fall asleep by reading a book, instead of watching latest crime drama. You will surely feel calmer.
There is nothing wrong in watching TV. However, you need to make sure that it won’t control your life. Take a break from routine activities, if you find it difficult to avoid TV.
What are the Causes of TV Addiction?
A lot of people who are addicted to TV have poor control over their will. They are the daydreamers who involve fear of failure. People who were addicted to TV spend more often they intended. They withdraw from family and professional activities to watch television. They are reported to have withdrawal symptoms when deprived of TV. TV is one of the powerful means of communication and is highly competing with today’s technology. Due to extensive availability of media, it is difficult to keep it away from our lives.
There are a number of causes of TV addiction. Some people get addicted to TV just because they are not interested in any other activity. Some other possible causes of TV addiction are – emotional condition, depression, anxiety etc. Individuals with poor emotional condition are likely to get addicted to TV because they want to forget all their worries. They don’t want to face the real world, and in this process they get addicted to TV. They start living in a virtual world that is in no way related to their real life. They seek happiness in escaping from the problems and prefer living in a different world.
It is not easy to diagnose TV addiction, as it is not unusual. If you see a person watching TV for some time, you will not feel that the person is addicted to it. It is a common behavior for people to sit in front of TV for hours, especially if they have free time. TV addicts have a vulnerable personality that makes them dependent.
What are the Effects of TV Addiction?
TV addiction can lead to a number of behavioral problems such as depression, anger, short-temper etc. People who watch TV for long period are more likely to suffer from emotional illness. Individuals should watch TV for fun and entertainment. However, you should watch TV for a limited period; else it will have a negative impact on the brain. Experts believe that early childhood years are extremely important and watching TV for too much can lead to improper brain development. Individuals should be encouraged to learn non-TV related activities such as exploring the environment, playing, interacting with people etc.
Increased level of aggression
Watching too much television may also increase the aggressiveness in individuals. These days, we find a lot of violent programs in television and it is not difficult to adapt them. Some television programs make violence as their main theme and seeing too much of television can desensitize people. It is also believed that too much television can engage the person in risky behaviors. When the individuals are detached from the real world and live in a virtual world, they may be influenced to engage in behaviors they see on TV. They may also show interest in smoking, drinking and drugs – as their favorite actor/actress is promoting them.
People who watch TV for longer hours become emotionally dependent on it and represent extreme behaviors seen in TV shows. Television can relax the person to a great extent, if they watch for limited period. Many people in TV industry argue that watching TV is not an addiction and there is nothing wrong, if they watch for hours. The issue is with the most frequent viewers, as they develop a tolerance and shows withdrawal symptoms when they are deprived of it. Television is very effective technology that controls the brain’s activities and changes the behavioral patterns.
Reduces brain activity
TV addiction is measured by the level of sedation. If the individual lack selectivity in watching programs or feels loss of control while watching TV, it means they are addicted to TV. Many people realize that watching TV for long period does not bring satisfaction. Moreover, compulsive watchers are more irritated, sad and tense than those who watch television for limited time. TV addiction can no doubt lower brain activity; especially in that part of brain that processes complex information.
How to Prevent TV Addiction?
Television addiction can become a standard pattern. With the availability of hundreds of TV channels, serials and programs – people are engaged in television for hours. Watching excessive television can result in unhealthy eating patterns and lifestyle. The individual may neglect work, career and relationship. You can break the bad habit by reducing the amount of TV time and engaging in other activities. Cutting television gradually will help you to overcome computer addiction completely.
Limit television time
Individuals have the habit of watching TV as soon as they come home from office or school. Creating a goal to limit the TV time will help you prevent computer addiction. Make a schedule to watch TV for 1-2 hours a day and stick to the schedule. You might also set an alarm to turn off the TV. Cutting down the number of TV shows you watch is another best way to prevent TV addiction. There are many TV programs that we don’t enjoy, but still watch them because of addiction. You may not enjoy a few programs or even feel as waste of time. You can follow the synopsis of TV serial, if you just want to know the story.
Cut down TV subscriptions
There are many TV channels that we may not watch regularly. Sometimes, you feel like watching them just because you are bored. You can cut out some of the paid subscriptions. If you have multiple streaming services such as HBO, Netflix, Hulu etc, you should consider cutting at least two subscriptions. You will save a lot of money and time, rather than getting addicted to new shows. Make a commitment to watch only a few shows. Turn off the TV after the show to avoid getting up into a new program.
Television free day
Start spending a day completely without TV or related gadgets. Designate one day per week to do activities that you like such as – playing board games with family, going for outing, catching up household chores, spending quality time with partner etc. If you feel it is difficult to be without TV for an entire day, try with small sessions. Avoid watching the program that you dislike. Take frequent breaks and try to increase breaks over time.
A lot of people watch television while doing other activities such as – ironing clothes, talking over phone, cooking, folding laundry etc. When you watch any TV program, make sure that you are mindful so that you don’t have to watch episodes on repeat. Avoid reading and sending mails during this time, as it will distract you from your work.
Do not turn on TV as soon as you come home
As said above, lot of people have the habit of watching TV as soon as they come back home. It is quite tempting to use TV as a way to relax after a long day at school or office. Use the first few moments to relax by doing activities such as – calling a friend, exercising, meditating, cooking a healthy meal or taking a walk. Taking this first step makes it easier for you to resist TV for the rest of the day.
Avoid watching TV while having dinner or lunch
Another best way to break TV addiction is to avoid it while having lunch or dinner. Do not associate TV with every activity you do. Whether it is eating food or cooking, enjoy the activity you do. You will have a healthy lifestyle by staying focused on what you eat and do. Get involved in the life of children, parents and other family members. You can even plan a family reunion and spend some time with your family. In addition to this, spend some time with friends. But, avoid going to a movie or watching TV show with your friends. Visit to beach or trips to skating rink will help you stay away from television.
Start a hobby
Start a hobby or take a class that you are interested in to use time in an effective way. You can stay occupied and productive by developing a new skill. There are many activities that you can engage in. some of the best hobbies to learn are – horse riding, painting, gardening, dancing etc. There is a whole world outside the home that you have not explored before. You can go on hiking, kayaking or canoeing for weekend with your friends — as these activities are good for physical and mental health.
Television addiction is associated with compulsive behavior of watching television programs for hours. Based on the most recent review on the model, television watching behavior can constitute a true addiction behavior. However, more research is needed on this topic to prove this. In most of the cases, it is extremely difficult to control the compulsion. Television addiction is similar to other forms of addiction such as – computer addiction, drug addiction, gambling and other compulsive disorder.
If you are not able to overcome TV addiction, you should consider approaching a counsellor or therapist who can help you treat TV addiction. Besides this, you can take a good look around your house to attend to household activities. Whether it is improving cooking, gardening or DIY skills – you will surely get benefitted from them.