#36alive 62: Turn Off The TV

Yesterday I talked about computer addiction relating it to excessive phone use, today I’m focusing on the TV and laptops. I’ve never been one to just sit in front of a TV randomly scrolling through channels before stopping to watch two “celebs” on a date, or a group of people I don’t know sitting eating a meal, however, I have spent many a few hours down a rabbit hole on YouTube without even realising it.


It is often thought that we can just sit and “chill” or “relax” in front of the TV, either watching something or playing our favourite computer game, however this is not really the case. The flashing lights and constant stimulation mean that our mind is not chilled out or relaxed when watching TV, quite the opposite. I first became aware of this when I was about 11 / 12 year old and was bought a hand held computer game called Tetris. My Dad and myself spent hours on this thing to see who could be the first to complete it (he won). The interesting thing was that both of us starting having weird dreams and nightmares which completely stopped when we finally put this thing away. Fast forward 10 or so years and I started getting addicted to the TV show Lost, so much so that I used to dream that I was on the island myself.  I also experienced how much games can affect the mind while at a Sunderland match, I was thinking to myself that it is time to make a substitution but the player I wanted subbed on didn’t actually play for Sunderland in real life, I had just bought him on Football Manager that morning!

I don’t actually play games now but not because I don’t want to, it’s because I know I’ll get too involved in them, thinking about them all the time counting down the hours before I can play again.

I also don’t have a TV, there is a TV in the house I live in but I very rarely use it and just watch anything I want to watch on my laptop. That’s not to say that is any better, but at least that way I am turning it on to specifically watch something on catch up or Netflix etc……rather than randomly scrolling through channels. I also limit the time I do this as I know I could end up getting addicted to a TV show or even worse, just addicted to the flashing lights in front of my face. I have also seen first-hand how a TV can take over a whole house, and often you’ll find TV’s on people’s houses even though no-one is even watching it. How often have you asked someone what is on the TV or what they’re watching only to be given a response of “I don’t know” even though it is switched on in front of them.


This seems to be a real problem all over the world with a couple in Nevada neglecting their two young children to the point of undernourishment because they were so obsessed with playing games. In Asia there is a real problem; China and South Korea have both had incidents in which people have died after spending prolonged periods gaming, with China enforcing strict laws on Internet Café access. In Japan, there is something of an epidemic with people who have chosen to withdraw themselves from the outside world, choosing to recluse themselves; this is known as ‘Hikikomori’.

Now I don’t expect everyone to stop watching TV or playing games but it would be a good idea to cut down a little. So today’s advice is to turn that TV or laptop off, maybe go for a walk, listen to music, read a book, go exercise, learn a new skill or, heaven forbid, actually talk to a real person.





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