We’ve been told for decades that too much TV would rot your brain – or something like that. One test over a 25 year period concluded that too much television viewing in your twenties changed the way your brain processed information and the way you carried out time-sensitive tasks. Another went so far as to claim that the sedentary lifestyle associated with too much television could lead to early death.
And according to the statistics, “too much television” equated to three hours or more per day.
Considering that when many of these studies began, there were only three networks and a PBS station, three hours does seem like a lot. Back then, we were still forced to physically interact with and experience the outside world – not to mention, each other – without texts, Tweets, or Snap Chats. So we didn’t have time to over-indulge in TV-land. Back then.
Now, far be it for me to contradict scientists and their three decades of impressively designed experiments. But television, is no longer just parking your butt like Archie Bunker in his favourite chair and having Edith wait on him hand and foot. (Ironically, his TV viewing gave her lots of exercise.)
Today, television is everywhere and incorporated into every activity. I don’t get on my treadmill anymore unless the TV is on. And I clock a lot of miles on that treadmill every week.
Whereas many used to turn on the radio while they got ready for work in the morning, now we’ve got television news and music channels blaring in the background while we eat our Cheerios. How else are we going to keep track of Trump’s 3am Tweets?
Television is now available on our phones, our computers, and even our watches. We’ve added it to our airplanes, minivans, refrigerators and kitchen cupboards. It’s in the gym, the bar, and most waiting rooms. So how would you even begin to count the hours we spend with it?
At one time, politicians, businesses and other newsmakers would time their press conferences and announcements around newspaper deadlines or to make the 6 o’clock news.
But with 24-hour news and social media, information is released continuously to constantly engage viewers. Social media sends announcements which we then check out online before turning into the complete TV report. Television programs are teased with numerous online trailers that we watch days or weeks before tuning into the real thing.
And while television shows were once solely passive comedies, dramas or news, today’s viewers are voting, commenting and interacting with the stories.
So where does television begin and end in our daily life? It’s part of a continuous thread of electronic information on our wrist, in our phone, and even, yes, at home in front of our couch. Three hours a day? That’s surprisingly easy.
But it doesn’t have to be a silent, shameful killer of brain cells and heart rates. Because during the time of those studies, not only have we changed, so has television.