Could one of your favorite pastimes be an addiction? Not only is the sedentary nature of watching television partly responsible for fattening the country — 33% of the population is overweight — some experts contend it meets the official psychiatric criteria for unhealthy dependence. The average American spends 4½ hours/day in front of the boob tube — behavior that Rutgers University psychologist Robert Kubey says mirrors symptoms typical of substance abuse.
But even if TV isn’t an electronic drug for you, it can have negative effects on your health… and that of your kids — studies suggest excessive viewing causes academic problems, hyperactivity, aggression, and poor attention among today’s youth.
Wean from the beam with these tips:
- Turn off the TV for a week. Most schools sponsor family activities like story time, game nights, and concerts that encourage a week away from the box.
- Remove TVs from bedrooms. Like any temptation, if it’s unavailable you’re less likely to partake. And you’ll notice a better night’s sleep without the screen’s flicker flashing through your mind before you drift off.
- Scale back channel surfing by allowing each family member to select 1 show a week. Keep the set off otherwise, especially during dinner — the distracting background diminishes personal connections you can make.