Wednesday, October 18, 2017 14:47

Television Addiction

Posted by on Friday, June 19, 2009, 14:02
This news item was posted in Addictions category and has 0 Comments so far.

Television was invented in the 1920s, and within ten years the technology of the medium was fully developed. Sixty years ago, television could do virtually everything it is able to do today, but the Second World War delayed its distribution to the public.

When tv finally did become widely available in the late 1940 and early 1950, it almost instantly became hugely popular. Once television sets began appearing in homes, important changes began in the lifestyles of millions of people. Those transformations have continued, and accelerated, right up to the present.

Today millions of Americans watch television for as much as eight hours a day, but does television watching really meet the diagnostic criteria of addictive behaviour? A great deal of evidence of withdrawal symptoms id one of the defining characteristics of addiction, and television clearly causes such symptoms.

There have been studies in which families were paid several hundred dollars a month for not watching television, but both studies had to be terminated prematurely when the subject simply could not endure the deprivation. Other research indicates that, as with heroin, television withdrawal symptoms for serious viewers are most severe after five to seven days.

The symptoms include feelings of aggression, anxiety, depression, and difficulties in dealing with newly available free time. Subjects who succeeded in keeping their eyes off the screen for a week then began to feel comfortable in their new way of life.

Another marker of addictive behavior is the sense of guilt that accompanies it, and which somehow seems to fuel the addiction rather thab suppress it. In a study of leisure time activities, television was the only that evoked feelings of guilt. Other leisure activities created more pleasure the longer they were pursued, but television produced guilt rather than enjoyment.

There are many other parallels between habitual television watching and other addictions. Like cigarette smoking, it is especially prevalent among the poor. Like heroin and other narcotics, it offers a fantasy world that over time can become a kind of alternative reality for the view. And like all addictions, it derives from the absence of genuine pleasure, joy, and fulfillment in other areas of life.

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