Research Question: Why do people get addicted to watching television?
A. Hook: Story of why a person cannot just watch one episode of a television series.
B. Thesis Statement: psychological, neurological, and accessibility to TV content are the main causes of TV addiction.
II. Psychological causes
A. The habit starts since childhood, and thus grow up binge watching (Goleman, 1990), (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).
B. For distraction from sadness, loneliness, anxiety or anger. (Goleman, 1990), (Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002).
III. Neurological Causes
A. TV engages viewers’ cerebral cortices, and thus, TV induces a high level of control (Holloway, 2015).
B. Directors of the movies have neuroscientific control over viewers by manipulating and mastering their minds (Holloway, 2015).
IV. Accessibility of TV Content.
A. Via the Web where users can stream anytime regardless of their location (Auletta, 2014).
B. Readily available and rentable DVDs (Auletta, 2014).
People find it entertaining and offer a source of distraction, especially when the individual is faced with psychological difficulties, such as anger and loneliness.
Television and Addiction
As a fan of Game of Thrones, which airs on HBO, upon the release of Season 6, I decided only to watch an episode, a single one just before sleeping. However, even after making up my mind that I would sleep after just one episode, I was bonded to the TV for the next six hours, and thus I ended up watching eight full episodes on a Saturday night. Interestingly, after each episode, I vowed to sleep to no avail. The temptation to continue watching was so strong that I was incapable of tearing myself away even as I approached Sunday morning. However, this is not unique to me, rather, all my friends have the same symptom. The question is why do we binge-watch? Why are people addicted to watching TV? I have concluded that perhaps the most ironic aspect of humans of the struggle to survive is how we easily get harmed by what we desire. The addiction to watching TV can be attributed to various reason, including psychological, neurological, as well as the easy accessibility and availability of TV content.
Firstly, psychological reasons attribute to the addiction. In essence, as Goleman (1990) articulates, since we were little children, we were accustomed to watching TV, such as one of my favourite cartoon series, Tom and Jerry or the Simpsons. As we grew up, we developed a dependency towards watching television to experience the same uplifting experience and enjoy the shows. As Goleman (1990) pointed out, one of the theories that explain television Jerome Singer, a psychologist from Yale University, proposed addiction. Singer held that individuals who watch too much TV from childhood grow up with a deprived fantasy life, and thus, to quench the deprivation, they watch TV too much because it substitutes their imagination. Besides, Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi (2002) articulated that watching TV for children and adults is part of their psychological well-being because it enables us to solve problems, as well as facilitating learning among children. For this reason, TV not only becomes part and parcel of our psychological well-being, rather, but it is also a pathway for learning. As people grow, this is engraved in the brain, and that is why we grow up being addicted. As such, to avoid adverse psychological problems, individuals have been conditioned to use TV as a distraction from sadness, loneliness, anxiety or anger (Goleman, 1990; Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi, 2002). In fact, Kubey & Csikszentmihalyi (2002) asserts that TV can be used to amuse, and in the process, these negative feelings are eliminated. According to Goleman (1990). This was supported by Dr Kubeys’ findings whereby watching TV was associated with altering mood.
Secondly, neurological causes also attribute to TV addiction. According to Holloway (2015), Researchers who performed MRI snapshots of the brains of the subjects as they watched various videos revealed that brains show a neurological response to storytelling craft and filmmaking methods. In essence, as Holloway (2015) posits, watching films orchestrates responses from many different areas of the brain, by turning them on and off at the same time. The author pointed out that this is a skill that has been developed by directors to master and manipulate the minds of viewers. For this reason, with the manipulations, the viewers get addicted, and binge watching of some shows is inevitable. The researcher also recognized the fact that television sparks our orienting response, which is a biological compulsion to coolly observe sudden movements and sounds to assess whether they are harmful or not, and television edits these noises, which triggers brain responses, thereby keeping us riveted to TV. Based on physiology, the response from brain allows the blood vessels to dilate, slows the heart, as well as blocking alpha waves, thus enabling heightened mental arousal while the rest of the body quiets. In effect, people find themselves unable to resist watching TV, which leads to addiction.
Lastly, the availability and accessibility of TV content have increased over the years, especially with the growing use of the Internet for live streaming. For instance, Netflix has gained millions of viewers owing to what Auletta (2014) terms as TV undergoing a digital revolution. In essence, subscribers to Netflix can stream the shows directly to their personal computers. Besides, as the author posits, YouTube is one of the busiest “television” with millions of subscribers and entirely free. As such, this facilitates individuals to watch many interesting videos, which glues them to the TV, and thus, cannot avoid addiction. There are many competitors in the sector, which allowing millions of subscribers to obtain free streaming videos, and thus, this contributes to their addition. In addition, there are DVDs which are readily available and can be rented. According to Auletta (2014), Netflix capitalized on the strategy, by offering streams, as well as DVD, and subsequently, this raised the company’s profits. Everyone can now easily access the movie clips, movies, series conveniently, which has tremendously increased the number of individuals watching TV. As such, this is a contributing factor to television addiction.
In conclusion, TV addiction is an inevitable aspect of our society because many of us were conditioned from an early age the importance of TV, which is a source of fun and imagination, as well as learning, and thus, enabling us to ward off loneliness among other psychological problems. Also, because the directors have mastered the concept of controlling the viewers, and engaging our brains, they have induced a high level of control, making it harder to break the habit. Besides, the readily accessibility and availability of TV content, such as DVDs and internet stream has exacerbated the problem.
Auletta, K. (2014). Outside The Box: Netflix and the future of television. Retrieved from http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/02/03/outside-the-box-2
Goleman, D. (1990). How Viewers Grow Addicted To Television. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/1990/10/16/science/how-viewers-grow-addicted-to-television.html?pagewanted=all
Holloway, K. (2015). The Reasons You Can't Stop Binge Watching. Retrieved from http://www.alternet.org/media/reasons-you-cant-stop-binge-watching
Kubey, R., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2002). Television addiction. Scientific American, 286(2), 74-81.
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