The Effects of TV on the Brain
Watching TV is something which virtually everyone does, but did you know that TV can actually be harmful for you? Television viewing can for example, increase your risk of premature death, reduce your level of intelligence, completely obliterate your ability to concentrate, physically impair the growing child brain and increase your risk of developing neurodegenerative brain disorders.
I have a background in biology, psychology and business and have been interested in the effects of TV on the brain for the past several years. Like many people, I was shocked to find that something which I had previously considered to be an innocent past time, actually posed a real threat to my physical and mental well-being.
Furthermore, I discovered that television is also a very effective mind control technology that can have a big influence on how you feel about yourself, what you think is possible for yourself and how you perceive the world you live in.
The Effects of TV on Your Brain
In this article, I present to you a brief summary of the main findings that I have come across with additional commentary of points of interest.
There is so much more that could be discussed, so please consider this summary as a starting point from which you can use to direct your own future research. For this purpose, I have provided a list of references which can be found at the bottom of this page.
Some of you may find the following information shocking. So be aware that when confronted with such information it is a natural human tendency to deny (i.e., say it isn’t true or make fun of), reject (i.e., refuse to consider) or repress (i.e., try to forget about) that information.
These are natural psychological defence mechanisms which, in some cases, can be useful, but most of the time will result in much more serious long-term consequences.
Before you begin reading about the effects that watching television has on your brain, have a look at the following clip below:
The video that you have just seen uses a clever technique found in the fields of marketing, advertising and persuasion.
It makes fun of a series of factual statements so that they are entertaining but are unlikely to be taken seriously, or seen as facts, by the viewer. The inclusion of aliens further helps to discredit the factual information provided.
Below you will find listed some of the main ways that TV can affect your brain:
1) Hypnotic State
Watching TV puts the viewer into a highly suggestible sleep-like hypnotic state. This provides easy access to the subconscious and is one reason why it is easy to fall asleep whilst watching television.
The hypnotic effect is largely caused by screen flicker which lowers your brainwaves into an alpha state, a state of mind that you would normally associate with meditation or deep relaxation. In most people, this occurs within 30 seconds or 3 minutes for very light and infrequent viewers.
Prove it to Yourself
Watch the following clip and see if you can count how many passes the white team makes:
In a hypnotic state, the information which you are exposed to will be downloaded directly to your subconscious mind where it will alter existing beliefs and form new beliefs without you even being aware of it.
This has obvious implications for marketers who wish to sell the viewer their product, as is shown in the television commercial below which is advertising to advertisers the benefits of TV advertising.
Note: In this video, a person is being put under hypnosis and is recalling slogans from famous British television adverts.
2) Lack of Critical Analysis
When you watch TV, brain activity switches from the left side of your brain (responsible for logical thought and critical analysis) to the right side.
This is significant because the right side of the brain tends not to critically analyze incoming information. Instead, it uses an emotional response which results in little or no analysis of the information. In other words, this is like someone telling you something and you believing what they say without doing your own research.
For this reason, people who watch a lot of TV tend to have a very inaccurate and unrealistic view of reality.
Watching TV causes the body to release chemicals which make it feel good. These are endorphins, a natural sedative with similar properties to heroin. It is therefore not only possible, but probable, to become physically addicted to TV. This ensures constant daily exposure, a critical factor needed to program the mind.
A person who is unable to view their favorite television program is likely to display similar withdrawal symptoms to a drug addict. They may become angry, anxious and will go to great lengths to see their program. The saying “got my daily fix of (insert your favorite show)” holds more truth than most people realize.
4) Reduction in Higher Brain Functions
TV viewing reduces higher brain activity, promoting activity in lower brain regions. In other words, it makes you less intelligent and behave more like an animal.
Advertisers target a region of the brain known as the reptilian brain. This is an ancient part of the brain which is responsible for primitive and primal urges such as sex, feeding and power. These themes are commonly used in advertising campaigns to make you think that you need a particular product.
The most common way this is done is by making you think that your life will somehow be better with the advertised product, and that without the product, you or your life is inadequate.
More information about the reptilian brain can be found here.
5) TV Rots Your Brain
Your brain is more active when you are sleeping than when you are watching television. Since the health of your brain is largely determined by how much you actively use it, watching too much television can therefore have a detrimental effect on the health of your brain.
One of the reasons why brain activity is so low when watching television is because you don’t really have to do any thinking. When you read for example, you have to mentally create images of what you are reading. This requires significant brain power to do. So when you are reading, you are effectively exercising your brain.
Note: Reading may help to offset/protect against some of the harmful effects television has on the brain.
The saying “TV rots your brain” has more truth to it than you might imagine. Excessive television viewing has also been linked to degenerative brain disorders later in life such as dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
6) Short Attention Span
Excessive television viewing can cause a person to develop a short attention span and increase the risk of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children and adults. This is thought to be due to the frequent scene changes that occur with modern-day video edits.
If you compare an old film, such as from the 1940s or 1950s with films of today for example, you will notice that older movies had much longer scene changes.
Frequent scene changes/cuts are used because it activates what is known as a orienting response. This is a natural biological response which automatically draws your attention to things which change in your environment. The purpose of this is for survival, so that you are quickly altered to possible dangers in your environment.
The more scene changes there are, the more this response is activated and the more your attention will be held. However, cuts which occur too frequently can make a video difficult to follow and may even may you feel sick.
Note: A “scene change” is when you notice a continuous video segment cut to another video segment. For example, a video of someone’s face cutting to a video of the background or to another person.
Try watching the first video clip again and see how many scene changes/cuts you notice. For a long movie, you probably will not be able to count them all due to the rapid hypnotic state your brain is put into which greatly reduces your ability to think logically.
7) Increased Risk of Death
Numerous studies, such as this one, have reported that television viewing is associated with an increased risk of death from all causes.
This may be due to a lack of physical activity associated with television viewing, or as a result of the physical degeneration of the brain. It is not known for certain though, why TV increases the risk of death or by what means.
8) Impaired Brain Development in Children
Watching television appears to be especially harmful for children as their brain has not yet fully developed. Increased television viewing in children tends to impair frontal lobe development. This region of the brain is responsible for impulse control and one’s ability to concentrate.
Thus damage to or retardation of the frontal lobe, can result in a child who acts socially inappropriately (i.e. exhibits anti-social behavior), and finds it difficult to concentrate and learn at school.
More information about how TV stunts brain development in children can be found here.
A Perfect Tool to Program the Mind
TV is an excellent tool to program the mind. It provides easy access to the subconscious, reduces your ability to analyze incoming information and ensures constant daily exposure via a physical addiction.
The main concern with watching TV is that you have no control over what is coming into your mind. Somethings may be good, whilst others may be bad. This relates to what you consciously see, but there are greater concerns regarding the things you don’t see:
– Are subliminal messages/suggestions being hidden in advertisements, such as the word RATS used by the Bush campaign on an Al Gore advert?
– Are words and phrases being used in specifically crafted ways to influence your thoughts? (terror alert, fair and balanced etc…).
– Is TV creating a sense of fear within the subconscious affecting growth and healing of the body?* (i.e. the constant exposure to death & murder on the daily news).
– Does TV make the general population feel powerless and inadequate by surrounding them with beautiful, slim and rich celebrities who people then compare themselves against?
The following video provides an in-depth discussion of subliminal messaging.
* Dr. Bruce Lipton’s research suggests that fear induced in pregnant women affects brain development of the fetus which is likely to result in a child with reduced levels of intelligence.
Constant exposure to fear has also been linked to weakened immune function, premature aging and learned helplessness. Learned helplessness is when you think that everything is so bad that there is nothing you can do, and so you just put up with anything.
You may think that TV does no harm because you know it’s not real, but did you know that your subconscious believes it to be real? This is why your heart beats faster whilst watching horror films, or you can be kept on the edge of your seat when watching an exciting movie.
Subliminal Messages in Pictures
Picture above answer:
Starting from the top line, the stars underneath each letter spell: “UR MR GAY”
Subliminal Messages in Videos
TV and Aggression
After the 2nd World War, the US Army recognized the need to create a soldier that was more willing to kill. This came after reports that many soldiers would purposely miss or aim low when shooting the enemy. Soldiers did not want to kill, and when they did kill, they would feel lots of remorse.
To remedy this, one method that was used (amongst others) was to watch violent images on-screen, especially before going into battle. The effect was to desensitize the soldier to violence, thereby making them more willing to kill.
Skip forward 50 years to the Iraq war and what do you see? “Hi 5’s” and cheers after shooting or bombing the enemy. That’s programming for you!
Some now feel that the negative effects of TV violence are being passed on to young children who often imitate what they see on-screen. Albert Bandura, a psychologist, did a famous experiment which demonstrated this very well as shown in the following video clip:
The video clip shows how children who watch aggressive acts are likely to repeat the acts they see. This is part of Bandura’s social learning theory.
How to Reverse TV Brain Damage
On average, people watch about 4-5 hours of TV a day, with young children tending to watch more. This results in a high level of mental programming, degeneration of the brain and wasted time that could have otherwise been devoted to more constructive and beneficial activities.
Watching TV is addictive and does result in brain damage. The more you watch, the worse the effects will be. Anyone who has a basic understanding of the brain, TV technology and marketing techniques cannot seriously dispute this.
Does this mean that you should stop watching TV entirely? No. I still watch movies because I find them enjoyable. You can learn from television and be inspired by it, but if you are watching TV every day for hours on end, then not only are you wasting your time but you are also seriously damaging your health.
The good news is that there are things which you can do to limit or reverse the damage that TV does to the brain. One of the best things that you can do is to read for at least 30-60 minutes every day. Reading is exercise for the brain, just like how running is exercise for the body.
Meditation can also be very beneficial, and when combined with reading, can help to improve the functioning of the frontal lobe thereby making you better able to concentrate by improving your attentional abilities. Learning a foreign language is also extremely beneficial for the brain, as is exercise in general.
So the four things which you can do to boost your brain functioning are: reading, meditating, learning another language and exercising. All of these activities are known to be very beneficial for the brain, especially the frontal lobe which tends to be most affected by watching television.
Finally, limit the amount of TV that you watch to one or two days a week, and spend the rest of your time engaging in activities which will provide long-term benefit to your life, such as by working on the achievement of your personal goals.
Also, if you have children, especially those under the age of 6, do not let them watch TV as by doing so you are essentially handicapping their brain and reducing their long-term future prospects.
A list of references can be downloaded from the link below.
If you want to program your mind for success then you must make sure that YOU are doing the programming and not someone else!