The average American watches more than four hours of television per day (five times the amount dedicated to socialization!). It makes sense that it would change us, the same as doing anything for four hours a day changes you. Yet, it's surprisingly hard to get people to accept this.
But the science is pretty much overwhelming. Enough television rewires your brain in a bunch of unexpected ways. For instance ...
6It Changes You, Even if You're Too Young to Know What You're Watching
It's easy to assume that impressionable children can be affected by TV shows, but what about toddlers? They aren't even aware of what's going on around them. Besides, they don't do a whole lot besides chew on furniture and inflate their diapers, so it's not like they could be doing something better with their time.
Like curing AIDS with crocs on.
Scientists tracked more than 1,000 29-month-old babies and their television habits and the effects of excess TV were downright startling -- even after researchers accounted for all the other factors that would explain differences in behavior. The more television a child watched as a toddler, the more likely it was that he'd be fat, bullied, bad at math, inactive and prone to misbehavior in the classroom.
Again, that's not a result of watching violent TV shows or anything else that would encourage them to do bad things. Not that a 3-year-old would be able to absorb those lessons anyway.
"Little Jimmy does love his Oz reruns!"
Nope, it's just the act of watching television. And again, it's not just that the type of parent who plants a kid in front of a TV all day probably also runs a bad household -- the results hold up even if you account for all other factors in the kids' upbringing.
And the research holds up around the world. A New Zealand study found that more hours of television viewed as a toddler led to a higher probability of dropping out of school later in life. In a stunning display of initiative, France has even banned shows from having children younger than 3 as their target audience, because French adults are the only ones allowed to have their intelligences insulted.
We bet this show is legal in France.
And while we're on the subject, let's get this one out of the way ...