Are You Addicted to TV?

How much of your time is spent in front of a television? How much TV do your children watch?  Can excessive TV watching really become an addiction?  The average American watches 2.8 hours of television per day, however, watching six to eight hours per day is not uncommon here in America and many other Countries.

More than 60% of American homes have three or more televisions in their home and admit that the TV is on more than the lights.  What is the fascination?  Most cable or satellite TV providers know this, and fuel the craving with upward of 200 channels which are accessible 24 hours per day.  To keep you tuned in, they offer learning channels, documentaries, how-to shows, reality shows, and hours of sporting events, political rants, infomercials and consistently fill the viewing audience with negative messages, violence, sex, dysfunctional relationships and chaos within the family system.  Why?  Because the viewing ratings are high on high crisis or conflict shows.

What benchmarks of addiction apply to television?

  • Compulsive Use – Watching television 8-12 hours per day with difficulty turning if off
  • Using TV to change your mood – Finding shows that match your mood, those that are sedative, a distraction from how you are currently feeling and allow you an escape from reality.
  • Craving – Do you have to have a TV on when you walk in a room?
  • Loss of Control – Do you find yourself seeking out a TV when you are out in public to eat? Hang out? Or find ways to leave the room in your home when you are entertaining company to “check what’s going on on the TV”?
  • Continued use despite adverse consequences – Does TV interfere with your responsibilities? Do you miss what’s going on in the house because you are so tuned into what you are viewing?  Do you fail to hear those around you trying to communicate with you?

Robert Kubey, a Rutgers University psychologist lists six symptoms of heavy TV viewing:

  1. Using TV as a sedative
  2. Having indiscriminate viewing
  3. Feeling a loss of control while viewing
  4. Feeling angry after watching too much
  5. Having an inability to stop watching
  6. Feeling miserable or having other reactions/emotions when prevented from watching it

Let’s think about this in light of what we are seeing happen to our children, teens, families, relationships and general population.  If in fact environment is one of the factors that determines addictive behaviors and the abuse of drugs, has television become one of those environmental influences on our lives?

Consider the following:

Is what you are seeing a distorted view of people’s lives and how they solve problems?

  • Are solutions often violent?
  • Are the TV shows making it harder to make good decisions when bad choices work just as well without much consequence in being caught?
  • Is the portrayal of dysfunctional families and relationships the norm creating confusion for children, adolescents and young adults?
  • Are there sexual situations that involve risk or does the inappropriate behavior create a curiosity to initiate inappropriate sexual behavior?
  • Have the shows created any desensitization toward excessive reports of murder, violence, war?
  • Has it created a benign response in society toward fear, threat, or attack if we help others?

What about the development of tolerance?

  • Every year, adolescents spend 1,500 hours watching TV versus 900 hours in attending school
  • They view over 20,000 commercials
  • By 18 years of age, they have viewed 200,000 acts of violence and 8,000 murders

Like cigarettes, alcohol, and other drugs and substances, the younger a person begins to watch/be exposed to TV in excess, the more extensive the problems in later life become.

WHY?  HOW? The brain eventually begins to tolerate the images that it is exposed to and it learns to ignore the emotional overload and/or feelings toward what they are viewing…..on TV and in real life.

  • How does this translate to you?
  • Is your family spending time in separate rooms watching different shows?
  • What about your time as a couple?  Spending time together or apart?
  • Communication?
  • Your family rules, boundaries, values and respect?
  • Your relationships and how you resolve conflict, take responsibility, commit, and honor?
  • Your dating, view of sex, and/or marriage?
  • How do you raise your children and teach them what is appropriate and inappropriate?
  • How do you and/or your children and teens respond to individuals needing help?
  • How do you feel about bullying, violence, and general disrespect toward people or authority?

Please let us know how we can help you and/or your family with these false messages that are being consistently implanted into your homes and lives.  Whether you realize it or not, the messages that get the greatest attention often influence impulsive reactions which lead to consequences.

To schedule an appointment call 678) 920-2608

Resources from Uppers, Downers, All Arounders – Physical and Mental Effects of Psychoactive Drugs

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