More bad news about screen time in general, and TV time in particular


Two recent studies about the effect of television viewing on the human organism have come out. One says that screen time, both in front of a television or a computer, dramatically increases the risk of a negative cardiovascular event. The other says that there is a negative second-hand effect of television viewing on the young.

The heart study was conducted at venues in the United Kingdom and Australia. It asked participants if they used a television or computer for purposes other than work for over or less than two hours daily. The participants were age 34 or older and were monitored for an average of 4.3 years.

Those who spent time in front of a screen for more than two hours a day had a 48% greater risk of death, and a 125% greater risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event such as a heart attack or a stroke or anything that sent the individual into the hospital for some type of heart surgery.

At least one doctor commenting on the results mentioned that the results may have more to do with inactivity than being in front of a screen, suggesting that anything that involved sitting could put an individual into the higher risk category.

The other study tried to link eating disorders to television use by adolescent girls. It found that girls in homes that did not even have a television set were at risk for eating disorders if their friends were heavy users of television.

The study, from the Harvard Medical School’s Department of Global Health and Social Medicine suggested the peer pressure exerted by a girl’s friends was a more powerful influence on eating habits than other things, such as parental viewing, urban location or body type.

RBR-TVBR observation: I think we all can agree that sitting in front of a television is not the healthiest activity one could choose, and the negatives are increased if one pays too much attention to ads for unhealthy food and drink and indulges in them while sitting in front of a television.

We get it – if you want a strong heart, make sure to exercise. And sure – if your TV-loving friends drag you to the fast food restaurant they saw on a TV ad, and you partake along with them, you’ll suffer the same nutritional fate as the friends.

We get the impression that spending the same amount of time reading a book or writing an autobiography or listening to music could generate the same results. So why is TV always the topic for these studies? When will we see the next examination of the health risks of heavy newspaper readers? Just asking.