An addiction, by definition, is an uncontrollable compulsion to repeat behaviour regardless of its harmless consequences. Many types of addiction have been described including alcohol, tobacco, drugs, gambling, food, computer ad work. Adding television to that list should not be a stretch considering the ubiquitous accessibility of TV screens to the populace.
Television can teach and amuse, and it also provides the much needed distraction and escape. Yet, the difficulty arises when one strongly senses the need to stop viewing as much and yet is unable to reduce. For mental health professionals, television addiction is believed to exist as a type of behavioural addiction. Though not considered an `Official` mental disorder, growing evidence pieces together the framework of the TV addict.
TV viewing has a numbing effect, and reaction to the body is likened to that of a tranquilizer. Drowsiness occurs, and one may even experience depression as the viewing continues. A person actually disengages from real life becoming immersed in what is being shown on the screen which, in turn, causes excessive viewing.
TV`s mighty grasp on the eyeballs of the viewer is partly due to the human body`s inability to react to the transmitted programming. Images from the TV screen are simulating and while the body wants to react to the barrage of images, it cannot. This sensory disorientation confuses the mind and creates an almost hypnotic trance in the viewer. British scientists have opined that human brains are genetically predisposed to enjoy watching TV. Nonetheless, all enjoy watching television and feel that it provides good information and entertainment. It is true that human brain will process audio and visual stimuli better than either text or images alone.
Watching TV is totally infused into our culture (modern culture). TV is a dramatic medium whose core nature is to portray the ordinary or mundane as exciting and compelling. Good TV is dramatic and nothing interests people more that stories, both positive and negative about others. Another idea is `The fairy-tale factor` where people are interested in the lives of celebrities: maybe they can go from rags to riches. Gossip seems to be one of the basic human drives, next to the satisfaction of the drives for god, shelter, and protection, and TV is the most perfect mechanised conveyor of that gossip. Opinions are moulded by television.
Though the Internet can also bring information into home, the Net lacks TV`s drama and the ease of use. Experts opine that no other single factor or our present-day civilisation whether educational system or religion or science or the arts, is so all-pervasive, so influential, so totally accessible to and shared by all individuals in society as is the world presented by television. In most cases, people cannot stand to live without TV disregarding its negative effect on health.
Breaking free of TV addiction involves replacing the virtual TV experience with real experiences. Choosing not to watch TV and deciding to do something else with one`s time is not life-changing, only experience changing. The addiction of watching TV is not physical, but behavioural. One must choose to interact with other people and explore the unknown. Do use the TV as a tool for relaxation rather than continue the subservience to habit. Giving up TV will sometimes require fighting a battle against boredom. The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Watching TV fills the mind with the images of others, and not watching gives the freedom.
To conclude this, the famous Ellen Parr says ` The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. Watching TV fills the mind with the images of others, and not watching gives the freedom. `