Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Emma from AL. Emma Wonders, “Does T.V. really rot your brain?” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Emma!
“Hey! Couch potato! Stop watching so much television or you'll rot your brain!" Have you ever had someone say something along those lines to you? If you watch as much television as most people do, then a concerned friend or family member may have tried to unglue you from the set and get you outside to play instead.
Watching television is fun. There's no use in denying it. The entertainment industry makes billions of dollars by producing television programs that delight and entertain us. Whether it's a funny comedy, an action-packed crime drama, a sporting event, or a musical reality show, television programs offer a little something for everyone.
Of course, television programs can be educational. Just check out your program guide for your local public television listings. You're sure to find interesting programming that can teach you a lot. Many other cable channels also feature fascinating educational content, from biographies and nature shows to historical features and game shows.
So why does it seem like so many people are against watching television? If you listen to criticisms of television carefully, you'll learn that many people warn against watching TOO MUCH television rather than television in general.
How much television do you watch on a daily or weekly basis? According to recent surveys, infants and toddlers watch a screen about two hours each day. As they grow older, television viewing increases. Young kids and teens spend as much as four hours in front of a screen daily.
But how much is too much? The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under two years old not watch ANY television. They also recommend that children older than two not watch more than one to two hours of television each day.
If television can be educational (and we all know it can be), then why are so many people against watching too much television? What harm can it cause?
Experts note that the earliest childhood years are critical for brain development. They believe that too much television can impede proper brain development by getting in the way of natural learning activities, such as exploring, playing, and interacting with people and the environment.
There are other dangers for older children, teens, and adults, too. People who watch more than four hours of television per day are more likely to be overweight. The reason appears clear. When you're sitting in front of the television, you're not exercising and burning calories like you could be.
Watching too much television might also lead to more aggressive behavior. It's not hard to find acts of violence on television. Some television programs make violence a key part of their appeal. Some experts estimate the average teen has seen over 200,000 acts of violence on television by age 18. Seeing so much violence on television can desensitize people and lead to behavior that's more aggressive or even violent.
Many people also believe that watching too much television can lead to engaging in risky behaviors. When you're detached from the real world and living primarily in the world you see portrayed on television, you may be influenced to engage in the behaviors you see on television, such as smoking, drinking, and doing illegal drugs.
Watching too much television might also actually change your brain in negative ways. People who watch too much television run the risk that their brains will get used to overstimulation from the rapid pace of the shows they watch. Some fear that the brain will change in ways that lead to a shorter attention span that can affect learning.