The rise of TV
A television is a common sight in almost every home; it is often the main focal point in any living space. Throughout the twentieth century, television took centre-stage in our homes as we began to spend more and more time in front of our sets. In 1951, only 9% of UK households owned a television set. In 2019, this figure was close to 95%. This begs the question: is there such a thing as too much TV?
Is there such a thing as too much TV?
There are lots of studies investigating the effects of watching television. Many have found that watching for extended periods of time can cause adverse effects on health. For the most part, these effects are linked to the long periods of sitting down which go hand in hand with watching too much TV.
We all know that physical activity is essential to our health. But with so many new programmes being broadcast every day – not to mention all the latest movies on streaming services like Netflix – it is becoming increasingly difficult to tear ourselves away from our screens.
Problems associated with watching TV
When thinking about the pros and cons of television, we should also consider the activities associated with watching TV, which can often be equally damaging to health.
– Food Choices: we all know that our eating habits change when sat in front of the TV. From so-called ‘TV dinners’ to quick and simple snacks such as popcorn and crisps, these foods are favoured for their convenience rather than their nutritional value. Of course there is nothing wrong with a little indulgence! Moderation is key; these little-and-often habits can easily have a detrimental effect on your health if left unchecked.
– Loneliness: this often comes hand-in-hand with watching too much TV. A study by Rotary Great Britain and Northern Ireland found that many people in the UK use television as a way of coping with being isolated. Loneliness is a growing problem which has been linked to depression. This can in turn cause a serious decline in physical health. It is now more important than ever to look out for friends, relatives, and neighbours who might be at risk of feeling lonely.
– Couch Potato: once settled into the chair or sofa, you are more relaxed and thus less likely to get back up again for some time. Combined with 24-hour programming and the new practice of ‘binge-watching’, this can lead to many hours of sedentary inactivity. Sitting still for too long can cause reduced blood flow, which can put you at risk of deep vein thrombosis and even pulmonary embolism.
Long-term effects of watching TV
You may wonder how something as simple as sitting and staring can cause so many problems.
Studies have shown that watching too much TV has risks beyond your physical health. According to researchers at University College London, people over 50 who watch more than 3.5 hours of television each day are at an increased risk of memory loss compared to those who watch less. Their study also links excessive watching to the development of dementia.
What can I do to protect myself?
If you are worried about watching too much TV, why not try some of the tips below?
– Make sure to take frequent breaks. The NHS recommends breaking up any long periods of not moving with some activity. This can be as simple as getting up to make a cup of tea or moving around your home.
– Take up a hobby which engages your mind. Puzzles like crosswords and sudoku are great ways to find mental stimulation. You could also try board games, jigsaw puzzles, or reading a newspaper, book, or magazine.
– Engage in social activities with family and friends. Even if your loved ones are far away, technology allows us to keep in touch better than ever.
– Feeling lonely? Why not join a local social club and meet new people who may be in a similar place wanting to reach out and make connections.
– Consider a Carelink alarm to protect your physical well being and bring you peace of mind.
Editor’s Note: This article was updated on the 22nd November 2021 to reflect current information.