TV addiction refers to obsessive behaviors around television that interfere with an individual’s daily life. Although not recognized as a diagnosable condition, excessive TV watching is a growing concern among experts and parents.
The symptoms of TV addiction include watching TV longer than initially planned, experiencing emotional distress when TV viewing time is eliminated, using TV to deal with negative emotions, and struggling to maintain personal relationships.
Several factors contribute to TV overuse. The causes of TV addiction include emotional relief from distress, an addictive personality, environmental deprivation in early childhood, and distraction from boredom.
Being addicted to television can also put someone at risk for physical and mental health problems. The effects of TV addiction include reduced quality of sleep, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), negative body image, and an increased risk for physical illnesses.
TV addiction is the compulsive viewing of television despite negative effects on emotional and social functioning. Television addicts often end up feeling worse after spending long hours watching TV, yet they feel powerless to stop the addictive behavior.
Another defining feature of TV addiction is experiencing withdrawal-like symptoms when trying to cut down on excessive watching.
There are multiple driving factors behind the development of the condition. The causes of TV addiction are listed below.
Positive and negative consequences may result from the condition. The effects of TV addiction are listed below.
There are indications that someone has developed problems with television watching. The most common signs and symptoms of TV addiction are listed below.
Other possible TV addiction symptoms include:
TV addiction can be overcome by practicing helpful strategies, including keeping track of the amount of time spent watching TV, finding alternative activities, and spending time with family or friends. These techniques help improve self-awareness and change behaviors that may have contributed to the condition.
When it comes to gradually cutting down on TV viewing, one can create a personal inventory that will keep track of the amount of time spent watching each day. It is best to create a goal to limit TV usage to less than four hours a day.
Finding new activities or hobbies to enjoy whether with family or friends is also an effective way to decrease TV watching. Social interactions also help repair relationships that were once damaged by excessive television consumption.
Certain factors may increase someone’s risk for developing the condition. The risk factors for TV addiction are listed below.
Watching TV is addictive because it triggers the release of a brain chemical called dopamine, which provides the body with a natural reward of pleasure that makes a person continually engage in the activity.
Television is an electronic device that transmits still or moving images together with sound and reproduces them on screens. As a telecommunication medium, television has many functions in our daily life.
TV serves several purposes and can be used for watching the news, entertainment shows, sports events, documentaries, displaying presentations at work or university, playing music, and taking part in quiz shows in educational programs.
Watching TV also has advantages, including having access to a variety of important information, being updated on current events, learning new skills, a way to enjoy and pass the time, and family bonding.
In some cases, however, television viewing can have detrimental effects on a person’s overall health. The disadvantages of excessive TV watching include decreased productivity, increased antisocial behavior, sleep difficulties, obesity, family conflicts, overstimulation of the brain that can lead to a shorter attention span, and the risk for addiction.
TV can also be addictive for other reasons such as its use as a stress management tool, the character involvement that a person forms with characters on a program, and intense cravings for dopamine.
TV addiction counseling is necessary when looking to develop non-TV hobbies and replace television with more productive alternatives to feel good.
Counseling can also help a TV addict break free of the addiction by helping an individual understand the underlying causes of the problem and developing coping strategies to deal with difficult situations in a more positive way.
This helps an addicted person view a challenging situation in a new light and avoid repeated engagement in addictive behaviors around a television.
The symptoms of TV addiction withdrawal include increased irritability, anxiety, restlessness, high levels of stress, hopelessness, depression, and intense feelings of longing to watch TV. Withdrawal symptoms are often observed when a TV addict is prevented from viewing television.
The drug-like high experienced in excessive television use can trigger these urges to continue the behavior once a person tries to cut down on the habit.
Binge-watching TV becomes an addiction when a person finds that they need to continually increase time spent in front of the screen to achieve the same positive effects as when they first engaged in problematic viewing behaviors.
Another telltale sign of a full-blown addiction to television is when an individual struggles to control how much time is spent on viewing television to the point of suffering from physical and mental health problems. These negative repercussions are also seen in other forms of addiction such as substance and alcohol abuse.
The effects of television on the brain include cognitive decline, shorter attention span, a decrease in verbal memory, and reduced gray matter in the brain. The negative impacts of TV watching on a person’s brain result from viewing television for prolonged periods.
Watching TV can cause cognitive decline due to the lack of interaction a person has with the rapid changes in images and sounds that the brain processes from the passive activity. Excessive TV viewing is also linked to reduced gray matter in the brain in middle-aged people.
Gray matter is heavily involved in several brain functions, including information processing, hearing, vision, muscle control, and decision-making. Too much time in front of the screen is especially detrimental to a child’s developing brain and can result in overstimulation and a significant reduction in verbal IQ.
The intense level of stimulation in the brain that TV can cause may lead to a shorter attention span and poor self-regulation skills. Evidence also exists that the more television kids watch, the more negative effects it has on the development of their verbal proficiency.