Slave to-television


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Slave to-television

  1. 1. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 1By Caroline Robertson  Is TV your friend, entertainer, educator orsedator? TV’s seductive glow lures theaverage Australian to spend up to 10years of their 70-year life hypnotised byit’s flickering pixels. But TV’s link toobesity, depression, anxiety, violence andlearning disorders has many turning offthe tube and switching onto life.Screen Siren and dishonesty.” Though many concur, the screen siren’s call is“Television! Teacher, mother, proving irresistible. The averagesecret lover,” declared Homer Western household has at least twoSimpson, a sentiment shared by TV’s and sales of plasma screensardent TV addicts. Most agree this and home theatres areguilty pleasure is unproductive but skyrocketing. Television is acan’t resist its instant gratification. shameless pusher of it’s billion-And why not, it takes our mind off dollar industry, reliant on hookingworries, quashes boredom and has as many users as possible,been shown to reduce pain. But at irrespective of responsible content.what cost? Our love/ hate Television is powered by profit andrelationship with TV is reflected in a profile, which rises with the ratings.TV network’s recent promo- “I think Flashy promos, cliff- hangingI love you but what am I so afraid dramas, unlimited cable channelsof.” There’s plenty to be afraid of and ‘exclusives’ keep many gluedaccording to anti-television like zombies. Add the rapidactivists. Writer Julie Ryan explains intercutting with zooms, pans, editswhy she booted the idiot box, “I and the viewer’s attention is lulleddont want my kids fed a steady diet into the alpha brain wave stateof materialism, violence, infidelity necessary for brainwashing. TV is aWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  2. 2. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 2By Caroline Robertson  fine in small doses but many are options. But why do young, vitalbecoming dependant on this people get hooked and how doesaccessible and affordable escape years immersed in TV’s alternativefrom reality. Anti-television reality affect the mind, body,campaigners liken it to the behaviour and society?morphine of the masses- dullingpeople’s imagination, intelligence, Programmingcreativity and social ties. “Youre beginning to believe the The TV Takeover illusions were spinning here. You even think like the tube. This isTV viewing remains the most time mass madness - you maniacs! Inconsuming pastime in developed Gods name you people are the realcountries. On average, individuals thing, WE are the illusion.” -in the industrialized world devote Howard Beale, played by Peterthree hours a day to the pursuit, Finch in the film Network.half their leisure time and morehours than any other activity save Messages from television seep intowork and sleep. In the UK TV tops our subconscious and, thoughthe list of leisure activities and in adults can process them withthe US the average person watches discrimination, children don’t havefrom 4-7 hours a day. TV is sucking such filters, absorbing it as babies as soon as they’re born, a Television’s distorted window to therecent Australian study showing world then greatly affects one’sthat an average 4-month-old perception of others and TV 44 minutes a day, an Television’s influence on one’simmature market being nursed by beliefs is explored in GeorgeAmerica’s new 24 hour channel Orwell’s book Nineteen Eighty FourBabyFirstTV. As the TV habit where TV viewing is compulsorybecomes entrenched in our daily and in Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheitlife the average four year old 451 in which wall size TV’s replacewatches 2.5 hrs a day and children banned books. Their propheticend up watching TV more hours insights are that television sellsthan attending school. But propaganda bought by itsaccording to American research the entranced devotees. What to buy,most dedicated audience is the how to look, how to act, whom toover sixties whose physical and emulate, what to think. These aremental restrictions leave them less the ideas TV implants in our minds.Web: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  3. 3. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 3By Caroline Robertson  The method is repetition- who can "We are raising the mostforget the Gilligan’s Island theme or overweight generation ofthe plane crashing into the twin youngsters in Americantours? The content is determined history...This week is about savingby what keeps viewers watching lives." - US Surgeon General Dr.rather then what will enlighten or David Satcher at the onset of TV-assist them. Hence violent crime Turnoff Week 2001.stories are network favorites,feeding adult’s hunger for drama Overweight children are more likelyand fuelling children’s fears. Biased to watch television which in turncoverage means the news screens decreases their physical activitystories, showing those that suit their and increases snacking. The rise inagenda, often censoring issues childhood obesity and associatedsuch as war to fit the image they type 2 diabetes is alarming healthwant to present. TV’s main professionals and parents. A recentmotivation is to foster ‘affluenza,’ or report by the Australian Institute ofblind consumerism as evidenced by Health and Welfare (AIHW) foundresearch revealing that every hour 18% of boys and 22% of girls arespent watching TV creates an overweight or obese, a level thataverage annual expenditure has doubled over the last ten years.increase of $US333. Our view of Exposed to over approximatelysuccess is also governed by TV’s 40,000 ads a year, children aresanitised reality leading to the targeted by junk food companies as“beautiful people syndrome,” where a lucrative market. According tosome feel inadequate failures in Australia’s ADGP’s Junk Foodcomparison to glamorised TV Advertising Audit in January 2003,characters. Author of Amusing a child watching four hours ofOurselves to Death, Professor Neil television per day over the six weekPostman alerts readers to TV’s holiday period would have seen apervasive influence, “Television has total of 649 junk food ads includingbecome the background radiation 404 advertisements for fast food;of the social and intellectual 135 advertisements for soft drinksuniverse, we have so thoroughly and 44 for ice cream.accepted its definitions of truth,knowledge and reality.” Another health hazard posed by television is myopia andTele Tubbies headaches. Sitting closer than 3Web: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  4. 4. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 4By Caroline Robertson  meters from the television and in a new worlds but it also competesdark room increases the risk of with other ways of learning andeyestrain and x-ray exposure which exploring. The very nature of TVcontributes to headaches. Ideally with its quick cuts and barrage ofthere should be soft lighting and at images has been shown to reduceleast 3 meters between the viewer one’s attention span and capacityand screen. to learn. Even with educational shows, television has been linkedAnyone who favors sedentary to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivitypursuits over physical activity is Disorder in children. A recentincreasing their risk of obesity, Seattle study finding that anmusculo-skeletal problems and "increase in the number of hours ofpoor circulation. Lethargy and television watched at age one islowered alertness induced by associated with a 28% increase intelevision appears to endure even the probability of having attentionalafter watching it. As my sister problems at age seven.” Hence theremarked, “I feel spaced out and American Association of Pediatricsdrained as if the TV sucked out all (AAP) recommends that childrenmy energy.” Maybe reword “At the under two years shouldn’t watchend of a busy day, I tune out and any TV, suggesting they’ll learnwatch TV to unwind but it has the more through interactive activitiesopposite effect; I feel spaced out such as talking, playing, singingand drained as if the TV sucked out and reading together. Unfortunatelyall my energy” Ultimately the this doesn’t appear to be parent’spassive, voyeuristic nature of priority as the Australian Bureau oftelevision discourages participation Statistics cite that they spend 20in life, fostering the philosophy that times longer sitting in front of thelife is a spectator sport where sitting box as they do talking or reading toon the sidelines is sufficient. their children. Children’s reading aptitude also declines in proportionStation Education to their quantity of TV time. As researcher Susan B. Neuman of “I find television very educating. the University of Lowell put itEvery time somebody turns on the succinctly, “reading scoresset, I go into the other room and diminished sharply for thoseread a book.” -Groucho Marx students watching more than four hours a day.” A 1998 study showedTelevision can open our eyes to 52% of 12th-graders who watchedWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  5. 5. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 5By Caroline Robertson  an hour or less of TV a day detachment and cool cameraachieved reading proficiency, angles. An average 18-year-oldwhereas only 14% of those American is subjected to aboutwatching more than six hours did. 200,000 violent TV scenes andIn response to this the More 91% of children said such scenesReading, Less TV program is scared them with 10% imitating it.being implemented in American This reads like you’re saying 10%schools to encourage students to imitate the murders. Reword to sayreduce TV and increase reading. with 10% acting more aggressively.Of the 3,500 researchAnother interesting mental effect of studies on the effects of mediaTV is that it can create attentional violence over the past 40 years,inertia, meaning the brain gets in a 99.5 % have shown a positivezone where it’s increasingly more correlation between watchingdifficult to look away the more TV is violence on TV and committing actswatched. People used to being of real-life violence. The Kaiserengaged by television may also find Foundation report states that 81%it difficult to amuse themselves, to of parents have seen their childrenspend time alone or in silence. imitate aggressive behavior from TV. Though networks know of theA sinister side effect of TV was correlation between TV and realrevealed in December, 1997 when violence they continue to increaseup to 700 Japanese children were violent shows due to high ratings.hospitalized with optically After a 7-year-old child in Dallasstimulated epileptic seizures after killed his little brother with aviewing a high rate flickering "clothesline" maneuver he hadepisode of the cartoon Pokemon. seen on a wrestling show UPN president Dean Valentine deniedUltra Violent rays the connection, "We do not believe there is anything sexist or violent“It seems every time I turn on TV about the World WrestlingI’m assaulted by horrific scenes of Federation.” The violent influencerape, torture and murder in my continues into adulthood with aliving room,” Serena, mother of two University of Michigan publishedshared with me. It’s become finding from a 15-year study of 329impossible to avoid violence on TV. youth that those who watchedIn suburban lounge rooms gory violent TV programming as childrencrimes are played out with cool were more inclined to be violent asWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  6. 6. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 6By Caroline Robertson  adults. Aware adults acknowledge love this extra family member withthe negative influence TV can have one study showing 54% of 4-6 yearon children and monitor their olds would rather spend time withviewing accordingly. After all, we TV than their dads and one third ofwouldn’t want homicidal maniacs in 4-5 year olds would prefer to givehome, so why should we bring up their dads instead of televisionthem into our lounge rooms? according to a Michigan State University study. We get genuinelyTuning out attached to TV characters, remember the fuss over the lastTelevision has proved that people Seinfeld episode? Televisionwill look at anything rather than personalities can be more populareach other. ~Ann Landers, US companions than real personalities,social commentator. replacing real relationships and drowning out personalIt’s impossible to compete with the communication. Many preferglittering attraction of TV. Try watching friends to having friendschatting to someone when their because TV is an undemanding,favourite show’s on or dragging a accepting, albeit one-waysports fan from the set to play relationship. The surrogate TVsport- it can get nasty. I recall epic family allows one to indulgeTV tug-of-wars in my childhood voyeuristic tendencies while dullingleading to tears and tantrums. ones real relating skills.Television and other electronicaddictions are partly to blame for Try as one may, its becomethe deterioration of family and impossible to avoid this omniscientcommunity bonds as distant and entity which canvasses ourfabricated dramas on TV draw our attention in shops, clubs, lifts andattention from local issues and real waiting areas. This annoyingrelationships. A fascinating intrusion led San Francisco inventorCanadian study proved this, Mitch Altman to create the "TV B-showing that civic activity slumped Gone," a universal remote controlsubstantially once TV came to to switch off TVs anywhere. "Weseveral towns. Many families TV have these devices that aretogether rather then live together supposed to help peopleas television takes pride of place in communicate but they have thehomes, 50% of Australian families effect of keeping people isolated,"eating dinner while watching it. Kids says Altman who hasnt owned aWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  7. 7. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 7By Caroline Robertson  TV for twenty-five years, "I wasalways squandering my time, Are you a TV addict? Answeringenergy, and creativity on something ‘yes’ to two or more questionsthat was at best benign." Still, many indicates may be.have fond memories of watchingTV with others - giggling at The Do you…Goodies, cheering at World Cup 1. look forward to watching TV?soccer, exploring exotic places and 2. watch more than one hour aentering stranger’s lives. TV can be day?educating and entertaining in 3. go to the TV soon aftermoderation but when it takes returning home?disproportionate precedence over 4. eat meals while watching TV?interactive, productive activities we 5. watch TV with friends?find ourselves watching others live 6. avoid activities so you canrather than living. watch TV? 7. turn TV on for background noise? 8. use TV to amuse your kids?The TV Test 9. discuss TV shows frequently? 10. get upset if you can’t watch"Not unlike drugs or alcohol, the a show?television experience allows the 11. plan your schedule aroundparticipant to blot out the real world TV?and enter into a pleasurable and 12. postpone turning off the TV?passive mental state,” Marie Winn, 13. watch shows you don’t evenauthor of The Plug In Drug. enjoy? 14. rush to complete things in commercial breaks?TV addiction is a recognised 15. stay up late in order to watchpsychological syndrome, the TV?American PsychologicalAssociation defining it as "heavy Ten Step TV Detoxtelevision watching that is “I hate television. I hate it as muchsubjectively experienced as being as peanuts. But I cant stop eatingto some extent involuntary, peanuts.”displacing more productive - Orson Welles, actor.activities, and difficult to stop orcurtail." Even brilliant people have admittedWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  8. 8. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 8By Caroline Robertson  to TV addiction including comedian Other then going cold turkey, try thePeter Cook and Orson Welles. So following steps to detox from TV.don’t be ashamed, take the firststep to recovery by admitting you 1) Record the time you watch TVhave a problem. Like any addiction, weekly.reducing one’s TV dose has been 2) Write a list of more rewardingshown to create cravings and mood ways you could spend this time.swings. Participants in the annual 3) Schedule these activities in yourTV-Turnoff Week going since1995 increased grades, more 4) Resolve to reduce viewing orstable moods and improved family stop it completely. Talk to yourcommunication after a TV-free family about having TV rules likeweek. Heavy addicts are better off ‘no morning TV, or no dinnertimegetting rid of the TV temptress TV or no TV before 7.30pm.’altogether as actress Cameron 4 1/2) Be careful not to get suckedDiaz decided, “I dont even own a in to new series. Realise that if youTV because I think its the devil.” like a new show you may end up devoting hours and hours to following its story lines. If you don’t watch the first few episodes, you won’t know what you’re missing and you will be less likely to become addicted to it. 5) Highlight the programs to watch in the TV guide, vowing not to watch more. Don’t ever turn on the TV to see “If there’s something on”. Look at the TV guide before you turn on the machine. 5 1/2) Turn off the TV as soon as your program finishes, don’t linger around to see what’s on next. TV networks are experts at tempting you to keep watching. 6) During ad breaks mute the sound and do something positive 7) Reward children for doing alternative activitiesWeb: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426  
  9. 9. SLAVE TO THE SCREEN 9By Caroline Robertson  8) Discuss with kids issues theyhave seen on TV such as violenceand sex. Pay attention toprogramming codes like ‘G’ and‘PG’. They’re there for a reason.9) Observe how TV affects yourselfand others10) If tempted to sneak more TVask yourself, “on my deathbed will Iwish I’d spent more time watchingtelevision?”11) When watching TV, askyourself “Will I remember this showin one week’s time as beingworthwhile or meaningful?” If not,turn it off.Despite being a reformedrecovering TV- addict, CarolineRobertson managed to qualify as anaturopath, homoeopath andayurvedic consultant. She practicesand teaches from AyurvedaElements, Sydney and is director ofa health retreat company, may be contacted at (02)9904 7754 are available onrequest from the author.Web: • Email: ayurvedaelements@gmail.com17 Orchard Road, Chatswood NSW Australia 2067Phone- 0011 61 2 9904 7754 • Texts 0425 233 426