Monday, January 28

We’ve ranted about the evils of television time and time again, but maybe you’ll listen to Science. In the most recent issue of Scientific American, Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi draw on findings from a number of scientific studies to build a description of a startling phenomenon they call “Television Addiction.” Here are a few outtakes:

  • After playing sports or engaging in hobbies, people report improvements in mood. After watching TV, people's moods are about the same or worse than before.
  • More than 25 years ago psychologist Tannis M. MacBeth Williams of the University of British Columbia studied a mountain community that had no television until cable finally arrived. Over time, both adults and children in the town became less creative in problem solving, less able to persevere at tasks, and less tolerant of unstructured time.
  • The article briefly discusses the internet as well: For growing numbers of people, the life they lead online may often seem more important, more immediate and more intense than the life they lead face-to-face.
It's likely that these writers didn’t coin the term “Television Addiction,” but this article is the best overall description of the risks of excessive TV viewing I’ve seen in a long time. Do check it out, and take a look at the list of additional resources at the end of the article.