"Studies show that the average American watches 42 hours of television per week. That adds up to 2184 hours per year" (Television and Health 1). That is an amazing number of hours that could be spent in a number of other productive ways. The fact is that too much television can have a detrimental affect on people especially children and teens. Some of the damaging effects of excessive television watching include the lack of interaction with other people, bad habits gained from television, and health concerns linked to less physical activity.
One of the damaging effects of television is that watching too much causes people to have less interaction with others. In his 1950's novel, Fahrenheit 451, the author Ray Bradbury mentions this lack of interaction. He states that "an hour of TV class, an hour of basketball or baseball or running, another hour of transcription history or painting pictures and more sports, but do you know, we never ask questions...they just run answers at you" (Bradbury 29). Using a form of technology can be a positive way to enhance one's learning experience, but this may not be suitable for everyone. Many people would actually find it beneficial to talk with each other and to walk through the active thought process rather than having it thought out for them on television. They could also find it helpful when they are able to question ideas and to listen and discuss with other students the topics they are speaking about. Television viewing also affects the way families interact with each other. "One survey shows that 78 percent of the respondents indicated no conversation taking place during viewing except at specified times such as commercials" (Winn 11). This lack of interaction with each other is what some people would call being a "couch potato." Some people don't like others around them to speak during the movie so that they can get the whole story, but this interaction with each other of discussing a movie is what actually helps people better understand what they are watching. It is possible that watching television or a video and discussing it as it is being watched can stimulate the mind and develop strong relationships.
Excessive television watching can also have a negative impact on people's everyday lives; it can create unhealthy physical and moral lifestyle habits. A writer in 1949 predicted that "television is going to be a real asset in every home where there are children;" but ironically today, it has had an adverse effect (Winn 5). "Young people also spend much less time outdoors playing sports and riding bikes than they once did. Many now spend hours at a time watching television, playing video games, or using the computer" (Fredericks 23). This can be prevented by the parents who should be taking an active stand about what their children do and help to get their kids more involved in some kind of sport or physical activity rather than watching hours of television. Almost every community in America offers soccer, football, or baseball to children starting around age 3-4. It is not necessary for parents to pay for these activities though; taking children to city parks is another healthy choice. Any kind of activity that gets the child away from technology is a good thing. "Television is not merely one of a number of important influences upon today's child. Through the changes it has made in family life, television emerges as the important influence in children's lives today" (Winn 6). Winn is expressing that television is taking over not only physical activities, but it also takes power over parents, church, school and many other places that teaches children correct moral code and conduct. One of the bad habits is that television viewing takes up all of the family's time. One statistic shows that "almost 60 percent of all families watch television during meals, and not necessarily at the same TV set" (Winn 6). This is a bad habit that also goes back to the lack of social interaction within their own family. Having three or four television sets in the house sets up the family for less interaction by allowing the child to watch a children's show, the mom can watch a cooking show, and dad can watch a football game. They divide the television by what they find the most interesting to themselves.
In addition, a number of health concerns have risen in the past 15-20 years in relationship to the amount of television being watched in today's society. Some of these health concerns are of physical nature and some are mental. "Prolonged exposure to television also discourages children from exercising, spending time with their friends and experiencing the world firsthand, opponents assert" ("Update: Children's Television" need page 1). Young people today are at a higher risk of becoming obese due to direct relation to the effect of too much television watching and video game playing. The government has begun to be involved in what school cafeterias can and can not serve because of the rising obesity rate. Soda machines have been taken out, foods are now being baked instead of fried, sugary snacks and general junk food has been taken out of the reach of any student so that there is not even the temptation. So should the government also step in and regulate the amount of time a child should watch television?
"After the April 2007 shooting deaths of 32 people at Virginia Tech University, Florida attorney Jack Thompson lashed out at the developers of Counter-Strike, a video game that real-life shooter Seung-Hui Cho had reportedly played often..." Thompson said, "When a kid who has never killed anyone in his life goes on a rampage and looks like the terminator, he's a video gamer" (Parks 13).This is a real life example of how video games can have an effect on someone's life. Many children have easy access to violent video games such as Cho did. Developers and marketers of such video games should take some responsibility of keeping these games away from small children, but parents must also take control of how much their own children access this type of graphic content just as they should with television programs. Parents need to be more responsible not only for their child's physical health but also for their mental health. "According to the national institute on media and the family, by the time a child is 18 years old, he or she will have witnessed 200,000 acts of violence on television including 40,000 murders"(Parks 12). People are becoming more and more immune to the violent acts that they see on television and in video games. Seung-Hui had never previously performed any act of violence in his life, but he suddenly killed many people that day. He didn't remorse or give his actions a second thought it because he had played so many violent video games which made him impervious to the real world.
In conclusion, in today's society, watching television is like eating, drinking, or even exercising. When it is done in moderation, it can be good for a person's physical, mental, and spiritual well being, but excessive amounts of television viewing can lead to negative effects to your mind, body and moral spirit. Therefore, television can affect the way a person lives everyday life and the way one treats others.