Television is such a fantastic form of entertainment. These days, with hundreds of channels plus streaming services, there is something to watch no matter our mood, taste or even how much time we have to spend in front of the screen. That said, too much TV time isn’t good for us. In fact, it may be far worse for you than you might think.
Too much TV time has always been blamed for various unwanted side effects. People say that it can lead to eye strain, obesity, posture problems and a range of other issues. But what is the truth of the matter? What really happens to our bodies if we spend hours upon hours vegging out in front of the tube?
The next time you consider binge watching your latest series obsession, consider what too much TV time is doing to you:
It changes the actual structure of your brain
Research published in the Psychology Today journal determined that spending a huge amount of time in front of the screen has an impact on the matter making up the adult brain. This occurrence is most common among people who are addicted to their screen time. Using screens like TVs, computers, tablets and phones too much actually shrinks the amount of grey matter in the brain while it reduces the white matter’s ability to communicate. This leads to reduced cognitive performance and a spike in cravings.
You develop an increased risk of metabolic syndrome
Research from 2008 showed that teens spending too much time in front of the television were at an increased risk of obesity, diabetes and high blood pressure, which are all side effects of having metabolic syndrome. Having an abnormally sedentary lifestyle is linked with a string of health problems that simply can’t be corrected by taking one brisk walk every day. A half hour of exercise can’t correct the impact of 14 hours of sitting.
You’re at an increased risk of eye strain
Yes, when your mom told you to shut off the TV because it’s straining your eyes, she was right, though not for the reasons she likely thought. Many people believe that staring at a screen, particularly one too close, will cause you to lose your ability to see distances. It’s often believed that there is something in screens that is harmful to eyes. This isn’t the way it works.
Indeed, along with the increased use of screens has come an increase in the number of people needing corrective glasses. This isn’t necessarily because of the screens themselves. Instead, it‘s because of the tendency to stare for hours at a time with a single level of focus. The eyes weren’t meant to be used in this way. They evolved for use in a way that regularly changes focus from close up to the mid distance and the far distance. It’s for this reason that many optometrists recommend practicing the 20-20-20 rule. Every 20 minutes look at something at least 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds.
To provide your eyes with further support, many will also recommend eye vitamins. These are not mean to stop you from needing glasses if you stare at a computer screen all day long or barely look away from your phone. However, they can provide your eyes with the nutritional support they need to function at their best. This, in combination with using the 20-20-20 rule and keeping those regular optometrist appointments can help you to prevent or slow the onset of many vision health issues.
These are only a few of the things that happen to your body when you spend a lot of time watching video. So, do yourself a favor and the next time you decide to binge watch a series, get up and do something active instead.