More than you would have thoughtWould you give up watching TV forever for one million dollars? 25% of the Americans answered "negative" in a survey made few years ago. In another research, men were asked what would make them happy. The main wish was a plasma TV!
Worldwide, there are 1.5 billion TV devices and the number of viewers is, of course, larger. Studies showed that people dedicate on average 3 hours daily to watching TV. North Americans stay 4.5 hours daily in front of the TV and Japanese 5! Four hours daily watching TV means that by the age of 60 we have spent 10 years in front of the TV.
Just like drugs or smoking, TV creates addiction. The viewers have craving symptoms and neglect their social and family life. Also too many hours in front of the TV lead to obesity.
Still, TV can have positive aspects. It can be a didactic tool, as this way we can find about countries or people we had no idea about their existence. We "travel" from jungles to glaciers and to the bottom of the oceans, from atoms to stars. We understand better politics, history, culture, and current events. It entertains, educates or influences.
But TV also comes with a great deal of exposure to sex and violence. Movies with fights, crimes, special effects and sex capture attention and as the sensational turns banal, for keeping alive the interest of the viewers, producers want to shock by going to the extremes. The violence and sex scenes turn increasingly explicit. Even in the case when these scenes do not develop aggressiveness per se, they can make adults more tolerant to it. Still, researchers warn that violence scenes have a negative impact on children.
Watching TV also influences your mood. An image can make us angry, burst into tears or laugh. Advertising clips, watched for years, influence what you will buy. Coca-Cola invests annually $2.2 billion and has profits of $22 billion. 30 seconds of advertising can influence you, while years of watching shows can educate you.
Researchers warn that children under 2 years old should not watch TV. This is the period when their brain grows rapidly and they must play and interact with people from the real world for developing their physical and behavioral skills.
Cartoons have been found to influence the behavior of children aged 6-12 more than school, as they can spend 38 hours weekly watching TV, while less than 30 in the classroom.
TV teaches children what attitude to take in certain situations, without explaining if it's good or bad. If a kid sees that a cartoon character binds his opponent, with satisfactory results, he most probably does the same. Kids are more prone to mimic what they see on TV than what they learn in school, as school is seen more like an obligation.
Put the TV out of the bedroom: this will eliminate 1.5 hours daily from the time you dedicate to watching TV. Moreover, if the TV is located in the child's bedroom, parents do not know what he/she is watching.