Watching television is a popular activity among Americans. The average person in the United States watches five to six hours of TV every day. That may seem like a lot of time, but that's an average. Some people watch little to no television, while others have a TV on from the time they wake up in the morning to the time they go to bed in the evening. Do we give enough thought to the time spent on this sort of activity?
Actually, television watching is not really much of an activity. People sit in front of a TV to get information or be entertained; however, sitting for long periods of time can lead to excessive weight gain and serve as a distraction from other, healthy activities. It's natural for human beings to be active, moving their bodies, walking, running, exercising or working. Watching television is about as unnatural for human beings as it would be for animals.
Families often watch television together. A large-screen TV can be found in most American living rooms or family rooms, or wherever a family regularly comes together. Instead of eating at a dining room table, some families eat their meals in front of a TV. People also find the glow of TV to be a comforting presence in the midst of social interaction. When family or friends get together, it's not uncommon for a television set to be on, despite the fact that no one is really watching it.
American households typically have more than one television. In addition to a television in a living room or family room, people have TVs in their kitchen, in basements or rec rooms, bathrooms, and many people have a television set in their bedroom. Increasingly, TV programs and videos are available on the go, viewed from mobile devices and watched while traveling. Nowadays many cars come equipped with built-in screens in order to entertain passengers.
But what are the long-term effects of all this screen time? Is it harmful? Health experts say it is. They say it increases obesity rates among the general public, leading to diabetes and heart disease. Television also fails to offer the sort of intellectual stimulation that is available through the reading of books and newspapers. People are less likely to talk to each other when a TV set is on, thereby creating a type of social isolation. It's easy to argue that thinking and conversation skills are lost to a television that does those things for us.
Parents are becoming concerned that children may spend too much time watching television and not enough time interacting with other people. All of this electronic entertainment takes time away from regular physical activity. Add in the use of cell phone technology and the total number of screen time hours is alarming.
The medium of television has been around long enough for us to form sound opinions about excessive binge watching and a constant need for entertainment. It's not bad to watch TV, but now it's worth considering how much is too much.
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