Since the age of TV and video, a litany of studies show that they cause lower-functioning brains, lower-caliber people. Criminal behaviors, deterioration of empathy, erratic violence, depression, loss of creativity, loss of problem solving, self-obsession, empty stress, and susceptibility to manipulation, are caused by a lot of TV.
Many people need to hear the obvious explained by professors and scientists before they believe it, no matter how obvious it is. Even then, most live in denial, and keep watching. Hard truths upset people, so they reject the information. In our society, “feels bad” has become a synonym for “false.” The worse it feels, the more false it must be.
The fact that studies are necessary to convince people of something so unmistakable, shows the grip that TV has on our minds. The fact that the big red flags from so many studies are so unanimous on TV’s damage, and those studies are so consistently ignored, shows that the damage is pervasive and permanent. Our lower-functioning condition is accepted as the new “normal.” You can’t perceive the loss, despite how great the loss.
In the final analysis, studies on the effects of TV should not have been necessary. Every conclusion drawn by studies of TV’s effects is obvious by using normal observation.
My first exposure to these studies was reading Dr. Marie Winn’s Plug-In Drug in 1981. But long before I read Plug-In Drug, I had already stopped watching TV. I picked up Winn’s book out of curiosity to see if my perception and conclusions were the same as the outcomes of scientific study. My observations were confirmed by scientific study more than thirty-five years ago, and by dozens more studies since then. My perception of TV’s harmfulness and my normal common sense were all I needed. That’s all anyone needs.
Haven’t you admitted it every time you’ve said “I watch too much TV”?
Many people watch a lot of TV, but lie and say “I really don’t watch that much TV.” Sometimes they believe it, because TV is such a thief of time. You watch TV for five hours, and the next day you swear you only “watched about an hour of TV last night.” TV time is virtually unconscious time, except you are soaking in countless messages that shape you during that evaporated time.
Many people will be defensive about my book Call of the Active Mind, and deny the seriousness of TV’s damage. Denial feels good. Today “feel good” equals “true.” Denial of the damage is the worst enemy of our culture. It spells the end—the epilog of a species.
Here are a few references:
- Marie Winn, Plug-In Drug (New York: Viking Penguin, 1977, Revised and Updated Edition, 2002).
- Nielsen. “Percentage of Americans who say they watch too much TV: 49 %” BLS American Time Use Survey, A.C. Nielsen Co. http://www.statisticbrain.com/television-watching-statistics/, Date Verified: 12.7.2013.
- Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihaly “Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor” Scientific American. http://www.academia.edu/5065840/Television_Addiction_is_no_mere_metaphor, January 23, 2016.
- Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience. Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1990.
- Television Dependence, Diagnosis, and Prevention. Robert W. Kubey in Tuning in to Young Viewers: Social Science Perspectives on Television. Edited by Tannis M. MacBeth. Sage, 1995.
- “Television: Opiate of the Masses”. FamilyResource.com. http://www.familyresource.com/lifestyles/mental-environment/television-opiate-of-the-masses, accessed May 29, 2014.
- “I’m Addicted to Television”: The Personality, Imagination, and TV Watching Patterns of Self-Identified TV Addicts. Robert D. McIlwraith in Journal of Broadcasting and Electronic Media, Vol. 42, No. 3, pages 371–386; Summer 1998.
- “Television Addiction” All About Life Challenges. http://www.allaboutlifechallenges.org/television-addiction.htm, accessed September 21, 2014.
- Jamil Zaki. “What, Me Care? Young Are Less Empathetic” A recent study finds a decline in empathy among young people in the U.S. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/what-me-care/, December 23, 2010.
- “Children who watch ‘excessive’ amounts of TV are more likely to have criminal convictions” New York Daily News. Link: http://www.nydailynews.com/life-style/health/kids-watch-excessive-tv-criminal-convictions-young-adulthood-study-article-1.1267868, February 19, 2013.
- “New international study finds U.S. workers lag in math, reading, problem-solving,” “Adult literacy scores in 12 countries higher than USA, only five score lower,” “Americans trail adults in other countries in math, literacy, problem-solving” USA Today. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/10/08/literacy-international-workers-education-math-americans/2935909/, October 8, 2013
- Tina D. Hoang, MSPH; Jared Reis, PhD; Na Zhu, MD, MPH; David R. Jacobs Jr, PhD; Lenore J. Launer, PhD; Rachel A. Whitmer, PhD; Stephen Sidney, MD; Kristine Yaffe, MD. “Effect of Early Adult Patterns of Physical Activity and Television Viewing on Midlife Cognitive Function” JAMA Psychiatry (The Journal of the American Medical Association). http://archpsyc.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2471270, January 2016, Vol 73, No. 1.
- Emma Henderson. “Watching lots of TV ‘makes you stupid’” The Independent. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/watching-lots-of-tv-makes-you-stupid-says-american-universities-a6759026.html, December 3, 2015.
Exerpted and edited from Call of the Active Mind
©Copyright Robert Rose-Coutré 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014, 2016