Fact check: can T.V. really rot your brain?

Posted: September 26, 2012

Can T.V. rot your brain?

The Accusation:  Watching television will ‘rot’ your brain.

The Case: “Don’t you know that television rots your brain?! Turn that thing off and go outside!”.

Ahh the statement that so many of us as teenagers have heard from our parents just as we were starting to watch our favorite T.V. show.

As a typical child growing up in America, the most recent data from the Nielsen Company has shown that you probably spend on average 28 hours a week in front of the T.V.

How do you spend those 28 hours? That is the question.

A study conducted by Matthew Gentzkow and Jesse M. Shapiro of the University of Chicago published in 2006 investigated the effects of Television on youth when it was first introduced in the 1940’s and 1950’s.

In contrast to the previous study, this one found that television had a positive effect on the academic performance of children exposed to T.V. as preschoolers. As well as stating:

“Our findings also suggest that much of the recent correlational evidence attributing negative developmental effects to childhood television viewing may require re-evaluation.”

In another study conducted by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC), results showed that watching Spongebob (defined in the study as a fast paced cartoon) causes temporary attention and learning problems in 4-year-old children.

Hold on a second, we’re not 4-year-olds and not all of us watch Spongebob!

That’s a valid statement, however what this study shows is that some types of television shows, in this case, a “fast paced cartoon”, can impair different sections of a developing brain. As teenagers, our brains are still developing and growing.

As you can see, researchers and scientists are debating and always coming out with new reasons why watching T.V. is neither beneficial or harmful.

Television generally allows you to be better informed about the world around you, but, watching too much can lead to poor exercise and dietary habits and often encourage a sedentary lifestyle.

Bottom line, keep it in moderation and be aware of what type of programs you’re watching and/or letting your children watch.

Television is a powerful tool, you have to be careful how you use it.

The Verdict: There is no conclusive evidence to support the argument that television will ‘rot’ or cause damage to your brain; except in the situation of infants and toddlers who are overexposed. However in the case of content, be smart about what you watch.

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