genius asks: what are some solutions that can stem the negative impact of television viewing on teens
Hi genius –
Thanks for your question about television viewing.
As I’ve said on here many times, I’m not a big fan of television. No dogs are – our humans sit watching TV and not playing with us for hours on end, and it’s BORRRRRRRRRRING! But I know that you humans tend to like it a lot, and often get quite a bit of good out of watching it. So I have to accept it.
But you’re asking about the negative impact of TV on teens. Well, let’s look at what that might be. Here are a few areas:
1) Lethargy! As I said, people sit for hours watching their TV screens, not moving, and often eating. This is often unhealthy.
2) Loss of Lifetime. If you spend hours every day watching TV, you’re not interacting with others, you’re not studying, you’re not playing. Basically, you’re not living!
3) Brainwashing. A few years ago, a study came out that showed that the more television people watched – including the more television news – the less they knew about current events. Some of this, of course, is because of watching junky fun shows, but it’s also because, unlike newspapers or magazines or books, TV news tends to be all about sensationalism, and not what really matters in the world.
4) Junky Shows. Then again, some TV is really just soul-draining! If you hardly ever watch TV, you’ll look at some of these shows in shock, and just say “How can anyone watch that?!” But just like junk food, cigarettes, booze, and drugs, the more you take in, the more you want, and before long those are your favorite shows. But they’re still the awful junk you perceived when you first looked at them!
Okay, so here are some ways to deal with those negative things.
1) Lethargy. If you find you’re not getting enough exercise, you can do some while watching TV. Lots of people have treadmills they run on while watching (this can even help them run more than they otherwise would, because all their attention is on what they’re watching, so that’s great). But you can also stretch, do yoga, lift weights, jump on a small trampoline – all sorts of things – while watching. You just have to prepare for it. And as far as food goes, you can just refuse to have the junky stuff there. Instead of a bag of Nacho Chips, sit down with a bag of carrots. You’ll still eat mindlessly, but the carrots will make you way healthier!
2) Loss of Lifetime. The only solution to this one is to watch less TV. One great way to achieve that is to force yourself to never watch anything as it’s airing; just record everything you want to see, and watch it later. Doing that will eliminate all the time you spend “channel-surfing,” or looking at stuff you don’t care about because “there’s nothing else on” (in the real world, there’s ALWAYS something else on… even if it’s just ants working on a patch of dirt, birds arguing, or beautiful clouds).
3) Brainwashing. There are politicians everywhere who complain about the media, and then ask you to watch the channels they say they like; doing that’s as silly as trusting everything you hear. It’s far better to keep TV news to a minimum, and read newspapers instead. Newspapers have to stick to a higher level of honesty, since they stick around forever (unlike news broadcasts, which disappear the second they air). And when you see a news broadcast, just ask yourself one question throughout: Is the story they’re telling me something I actually should know, or is it just sensationalism and opinion? I’m sorry to say that, about 90% of the time, it seems to be the latter.
4) Junky Shows. Junky shows are like junky food. I would be a total hypocrite if I told you to never eat a piece of pizza or some ice cream. But I wouldn’t even be alive if I ate those every day instead of the healthy dog food Handsome feeds me. TV is the same. If you want to watch a silly show about which celebrities are dating whom or shopping where, go for it (I can’t imagine anything more boring, but then you probably wouldn’t want to run around a dog park sniffing everyone’s behinds, so that’s okay). But restrain it! Watch one show like that a week, maybe. And then you can throw in some reality show about awful obnoxious people who are rude to their families. Fine. Occasionally. But watching those things every day will just turn your brain to kitty litter! (And watching certain things on cable or the internet will turn your brain to USED kitty litter!) You know how it feels when you watch something that really interests and excites you. Try to stick to those.
Okay, that’s how I’d deal with those four issues. But I’ll throw in two other ideas as well. First, one great thing about recording all the shows you want to watch is that you can fast-forward through the commercials! Some commercials are amazing works of cinematic art or clever writing, and sure those are fun to watch. But most are just repetitious attempts to get you to buy things you don’t really want or need. Skip them and find yourself having more time and money!
And last but not least – do you want to know the best single way to beat Lethargy, Loss of Lifetime, Brainwashing, and Junky Shows? (I know some of you have guessed already!). PLAY WITH YOUR DOG! Take us for a walk, throw a ball with us, take us to the woods or the beach, brush out our coats, rub our tummies, or just gaze into our eyes and see how complex it is inside there. We are the total opposite of television. We lack the intellectual intelligence of science documentaries and real debate, and we offer 3-D reality, in the moment, non-manufactured. And with no commercials at all!
I hope this helps, genius. And gives you a better life!