Below is a snip from an article I read today about television addiction. While reading it, I instantly recognized that I have had some of these same feelings related to playing video games. Anyway, I thought I’d put this here so I don’t forget about it. Hopefully it will help guide people towards a more healthy relationship with TV shows and video games.
What Really Happens When You Watch
Television exerts an almost hypnotic pull. If the box is on, your body is drawn to watch, researchers say. The quickly shifting images and loud noises prompt a reaction known as the orienting reflex, which evolved to protect us from potential predators. When you sense movement, your body freezes and “blood rushes to your brain so you can scope out what’s going on,” Kubey explains.
These images may attract your eyes the same way a flickering fire or light reflecting off the surface of a body of water does, adds Percy Tennenbaum, Ph.D., a professor emeritus of public policy and psychology at the University of California at Berkeley. Even the best-intentioned people find they can’t look away when the television is on. Alexis Bloom, a New York City-based filmmaker, discovered this firsthand when she made a documentary about Bhutan, the Himalayan nation that in 1999 was the last place in the world to get television. While filming, she learned that Bhutanese monks performing religious ceremonies in people’s homes often found their eyes straying to the television in the corner.
Once it catches your attention, television sedates you like a drug. Scientists say television viewing increases your brain’s alpha waves and slows your beta waves, making you feel mellow and relaxed.
But once you turn off the television set, the good feelings evaporate. Any negative feelings you weren’t paying attention to while the set was on will surface. And you might experience symptoms of withdrawal, including boredom, dissatisfaction, irritability, a low energy level, and an inability to concentrate, Kubey says. In a weeklong study of people’s habits, Kubey and a colleague discovered that people were less likely to feel good after watching television than after exercising, reading a good book, or having an interesting conversation.
Given television’s hypnotic effects, it’s no wonder that it’s hard to turn off. Still, not everyone has a problem. Some people can watch a little television each week and switch it off easily, while others sense that they can’t control how much they watch and feel drawn to the television day after day. Researchers say they haven’t studied television habits enough to understand why.