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Every day millions of adults, children, teens, and elderly fall into a near comatose state created by hours of watching television. Most people do not realise that all of this television watching is ruining our psychological health as well as our physical health. I am not going to preach on how television watching is a bad thing, just that there are good reasons to cut back.

Listen to some statistics. 99% of the homes in Canada have at least one television set, while 66% of homes have three or more sets. There are 2.24 sets in an average household, with 54% of children having television sets in their bedroom, me being one of them. These statistics show that, although we may wish to deny it, the television has crept into everyone’s life. Television is a drug and is definitely addictive.

Of course, television has its upsides as well. While there are some educational and informative shows out there, most of it is just useless.

By the time death comes up, a person could spend around one and a half years of their life just viewing commercials designed mainly to sell images and products. These corporations do not care about the consumer as a person, but the consumer as a piggy bank, willing to spend their hard-earned cash.

One of the many misconceptions when it comes to television deals with the percentage of violence in real life. Did you know that people will have seen 8000 murders on television – by the time they start grade 1? Many surveys have shown that people of all ages tend to overestimate the occurrence of violence in real life. This scared outlook on life is due to the amount of television they watch and the high incident of violence during those viewing sessions.

While violence on television has made some people fearful, it has made a few children increasingly aggressive with a tendency to imitate the violence they see. Some children have been known to build up an “immunity” to the horror of violence, gradually accepting violence as a way to solve problems.

Not only are there emotional and psychological side effects of television watching, but there are also many physical side effects as well. Sleep deprivation, and sensory development are only some, and while each may only have a slight impact, the increasing effect is life altering.

Sleep deprivation is a major problem. People of all ages are staying up later and later glued to Tv’s, many young kids stay up until 11:30 p.m. on school nights. How are these late nights affecting them? They are causing them to fall asleep during class, thus limiting their attention span, and hindering the child’s learning ability. The less sleep a person gets, the less chance the body has to fight off an infection or virus. Lack of sleep obstructs the immune system’s ability to fight unwanted cells, allowing the cells to divide and disperse into the body.

Developing the senses is an important part of a child’s learning process. Each sense has its own unique purpose. Without exercise, that sense will not develop completely. Television does not help at all with sensory development.

Staring endlessly into a screen of flashing pictures impedes the eye’s ability to focus often causing blurred vision. Constant movement is needed for developing depth perception. Since the sense of sight is maturing through age twelve, excessive television watching can seriously impair a child’s observational skills. The television trains a short attention span, while books require long-attention spans, due to the length of time it takes to read one.

Television is a powerful medium. It can be used to inform, educate, entertain and express opinion. There are quite a few news programs that can update one on the day’s current events. Many shows on channels such as TLC and the Discovery Channel offer us insight into the world around us. Of course, what’s television without sitcoms, cartoons, concerts, music videos and all sorts of other programming? Entertainment is the farthest-reaching aspect of television. As for opinions, people can express themselves in different forums, for instance televised public debates and speaker’s corner.

It is terrible to think that something as commonplace as a television set can influence our lives in so many different ways. I really did not believe most of the statistics I uncovered. 8000 murders before 5 years of age? Thank you for listening to my speech, I hope the message of how although television can be entertaining and informative, there are a lot of detrimental side effects go through.

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