TV: As Addictive as Alcohol
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TV: As Addictive as Alcohol


Yikes. UK psychologists have declared that kids are at risk for a lifelong addiction to television—and it could become as severe as alcoholism. England’s Tim Loughton said this “screen addiction in youngsters could cause changes in the brain similar to those seen in cocaine addicts and alcoholics.”

Dora the Explorer Overload

According to the Daily Mail, children “spend nearly a year slumped in front of the TV or staring at computer screens” by the time they’re just seven years old.

In a report called “The State Our Children Are In,” experts cited research by a psychologist who said today’s kids are “at risk of a lifelong dependency on TV and computer screens.”

Nickelodeon Is Bad for Your Health

The doctor’s research also showed that 12 to 15-year-olds spend a whopping six hours per day looking at screens of some sort. They also found that modern kids are twice as likely to get injuries caused by repetitive strain movements (like playing computer games with controls for too long) as they were 10 years ago.

These doctors’ work, as well as others’ out there, indicates a link between excessive time spent staring at screens with health woes like blood pressure, obesity and high cholesterol, as well as inattentiveness and sleep disorders—even autism.

Defending the Tube

As an unrepentant longtime TV addict myself (hey, I gave up everything else—you can’t take my trash TV away from me!), I have mixed feelings about studies like this. Of course I understand the dangers of exposing kids to too much screen time too soon. If I had a kid, I certainly wouldn’t want him or her to spend more time playing dumb games or watching dumb TV shows than he would spend reading or playing outside.

But…I also just don’t know how practical it is to want or expect kids to walk away from a medium that’s now consuming every possible element of everyday life in 2014. The future is now, modern kids are more sophisticated and they’re growing up with advances in tech gadgets that we and our parents never could have imagined 20 years ago.

Is all the screen time turning their brains to mush? Possibly. But can’t all those computer games be good, too? Many games are healthy or beneficial to the human brain—yes, even kids’. I guess I wouldn’t write off all screens, everywhere, forever, quite yet if I were a kid (or, uh, if I had a kid of my own). Or maybe that’s just my inner addict talking—seriously, take my TV? Get ready to die!

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About Author

Laura Barcella is a documentary researcher, author, freelance writer and ghostwriter from Washington, DC. Her writing has also appeared in TIME, Marie Claire, Salon, Esquire, Elle, Refinery29, AlterNet, The Village Voice, Cosmopolitan, The Chicago Sun-Times, Time Out New York, BUST, ELLE Girl, NYLON and Her book credits include Know Your Rights: A Modern Kid's Guide to the American Constitution, Fight Like a Girl: 50 Feminists Who Changed the World, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City, Madonna & Me: Women Writers on the Queen of Pop and The End: 50 Apocalyptic Visions From Pop Culture That You Should Know About…Before It’s Too Late.