We’ve all done it- spent an afternoon or an entire day binge watching way too much of our most recent Netflix find. There’s not much wrong with the occasional Netflix indulgence, but if binge watching becomes a habit, you’ll soon be facing health problems- mentally and physically. Books, on the other hand, are a mentally stimulating way to spend your time. A survey in 2015, however, found that only 72 percent of adults had read that year, and the numbers are only decreasing. As they do, mental illness- depression, anxiety- steadily increases.
People who read score consistently higher on cognitive tests, especially when it comes to language. They have a far more developed vocabulary, and a much higher ability for critical thinking. When you read, you’re forced to take in the information given to you, process it, and form an opinion about it- that is, you have to think. Television, however, is designed to be much more passive. You can turn on the TV and turn off your brain as you sit mindlessly watching a show with little or no real comprehension. All the information you need is given to you on the show, you don’t have to form opinions or ideas or thoughts about anything that is going on, you just absorb. And on top of that, watching TV is closely associated with eating large amounts of unhealthy food, once again, mindlessly.
Reading also heightens your attention span. Readers have are much more able to sit and listen to a speaker without getting bored. The rise of television has made the world think that we constantly need to be entertained, or else something is not worth our time. As television usage has increased, presidential debates, church sermons, you name it, have become much more about entertaining the watcher than presenting real content. Many people can’t handle content if it isn’t presented in an entertaining way.
That said, television is not bad, per se. It certainly has its place. It is a great tool for teaching. It also has a unique ability to convey emotion. The combination of a both visual and audible story can engage the watcher in an amazing way if it’s executed well. It may not be as mentally stimulating, but TV does have the potential to teach its viewers moral lessons extremely well.
So all in all, it comes down to balance. Watching quality TV is not a bad thing if it’s done on occasion and with the realization that you aren’t actively engaging your mind. And as long as you don’t totally give up on reading like many people today have chosen to do, you will continue to grow your mind in amazing ways!