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Glow's avatar

Do you think too much TV can cause.... stuipidity?

Asked by Glow (1352 points ) February 13th, 2009

I was wondering, can watching too much TV cause a person to become… for a lack of a better term… stupid? Of course, im talking about over time here.

I was thinking that the watching of TV, regardless of what one watches, is not stimulating to the brain as much as something such as reading, or meditating to ones self in silence is. I mean, we can watch educational shows, and that gives us a broader sense of knowing, but not understanding, as we are thinking as much as we would if we were reading the same information….

I dunno, just an idea or something. I was curious as to other peoples opinions on it.

And for the record, I very rarely watch TV. Only when im at some ones house and it is on. Ill glance. But I very rarely turn it on, except to watch the weather :P

ALSO, im not making assumptions here, so please dont blatantly attack me. I am merely just doing some thinking so I can perhaps come to a better judgment of this matter and of…..stupid people :)

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40 Answers

Jbor's avatar

The lack of other activities, like reading as you mention, will not help in that department. As for watching TV I doubt it causes stupidity in itself. But I do see an alarming tendency in our programming here being dumbed down (I live in Europe). Please do not take this the wrong way, but the majority of the american programs we get here are really condescending to the viewer, and that seems to be the way things are headed here as well.

jrpowell's avatar

I just skimmed over your question. I will respond with thoughtful answer when Saved By The Bell is over.

toomuchcoffee911's avatar

I know it shortens your attention span.

bodyhead's avatar

It depends on what you watch. Do you learn anything from watching? Is it the discovery channel? It is a biography or is it Deal or No Deal?

TV geared towards stupid people will make you stupider.

tonedef's avatar

I’ve been watching some of the shows on VH1 and MTV recently: A Double Shot at Love with the Ikki Twins, Rock of Love Bus, A Real Chance at Love, I Love Money 2, EDIT: I forgot, “Tool Academy.”

From these experiences, I’ve concluded that it’s not television that causes stupidity. It’s stupidity that causes television.

Nimis's avatar

Sometimes I think I can hear my brain cells gasping for air.
I do notice they tend to fare better on cable and The Discovery Channel though.

SuperMouse's avatar

When I was growing up my parents had no limits whatsoever on our television viewing habits. When we weren’t in school the television was on. During the summer we turned it on for The Love Boat, watched through Bonanza, The Twilight Zone, Good Times, to Hawaii Five-O up to Happy Days and Laverne and Shirley. We had a television in the living room, the family room, and we all had tv’s in our rooms. During the school year weekends were all about Saturday morning cartoons, Tom Hatten with Popeye and The Little Rascals, Mary Tyler Moore and Bob Newhart. We never bothered with anything remotely educational, if an After School Special with a message came on, we couldn’t change the channel fast enough. To put it simply, we were a family of television junkies.

Two of my brothers are PhD’s one is a lawyer, my sister (shout out Gimmedat!) is a middle school teacher who went to college on a full ride scholarship. My other sister has an associates degree. I worked my entire career as a financial analyst and I’m currently finishing up my bachelor’s degree with an endorsement to teach special education.

Lot’s of television; very little stupidity.

Nimis's avatar

@SuperMouse Maybe I’m getting old, but I think television back in the day
was less likely to make you brain dead than what is played these days.
Don’t get me wrong. There are some gems out there. But generally speaking…

marinelife's avatar

I think it is the other way around: stupidity causes too much TV watching.

aprilsimnel's avatar

It’s a passive activity, which can’t be too good for the ol’ braincells. TV “does it all for you”, as it were, imagination-wise. But for people who write TV, it’s fun and stimulating because they are using their imaginations. OK, some of them not too well… but that’s why I like a lot of UK TV.

scamp's avatar

Um…. Wait, what was the question again????

Anatelostaxus's avatar

one word: anesthesia.

Johnny_Rambo's avatar

No, I was already stupid.

Glow's avatar

@SuperMouse – well that’s very interesting. I do agree with Nimis though. As I was reading your response, I was thinking the same exact thing. Those were all shows that even I enjoyed as a kid. I was a Saturday morning cartoons person too. I couldn’t miss them for the world! I dont want to say that people who watch all this television NOW wont get into the same situation as you or your siblings… in that they went to college with scholarships and graduated with PhD’s. But television these days is so much different than what it used to be :/ American Idol, Real World, Pimp My Ride, and a variety of shows that promote high sexuality and drug usage and such. Based on what ive seen, some people tend to believe every single thing they see on TV….. ALSO, my question was geared more towards adults who watch tv rather than children, but I wonder if they can be affected just as much… intelligence wise.

Glow's avatar

@toomuchcoffee911 – but than again, doesnt too much coffee? ;) Lol jk jk. I wanted to really say that. But I agree. It does. People get bored easily,especially children, ive heard from being so used to watching TV :P

Baloo72's avatar

I think that it definitely can, but it doesn’t inherently make people stupid. I think that if you just sit and absorb the junk from modern television you might easily become stupid. However, if you watch educational programs and then try to do more with the knowledge (research it, apply it, or do something with it) it can be somewhat beneficial (though it can’t quite compare to reading a book).

Bluefreedom's avatar

I’d like to think that a good portion of my television watching has actually made me smarter. In large part because the only things I watch on television nowadays are Discovery, TLC, Biography, A&E, and a few other educational programs. I’ve learned quite a few things from all the different shows I’ve seen so maybe I’m an exception to the rule.

scamp's avatar

@Bluefreedom I agree completely. It’s not really as much a matter of how often a person watches as their choice of what to watch. Let’s not forgert PBS and the National Geographic channels. They have lots of wonderful things to teach us.

steelmarket's avatar

@Marina – sounds like a vicious cycle to me.

I do know that it can have an adverse effect on a person’s spelling.

Bluefreedom's avatar

@scamp. I completely forgot about PBS. They have many good programs and my wife watches that channel all the time.

scamp's avatar

I loved the Planet Earth series they did!!

susanc's avatar

Culturally Approved TV makes us smarter? It gives us more information. Is that the same thing?
I do think watching a steady regimen of Miley Cyrus could make us stupid, because Miley Cyrus is 15 or something and most, hopefully all, adults have to drop down eight levels to get with the program. I watched her yesterday. For ten minutes. It was great.

SuperMouse's avatar

@Glow, I hadn’t thought of the types of shows we used to watch until I read Nimis’ response. I think you are right, The Brady Bunch is a far cry from Wifeswap. Even if we can’t attack the quality of today’s shows, we can certainly attack the content.

@Bluefreedom, I agree with your point about the right television actually helping a person’s intelligence. My son loves all those engineering type shows on the Discovery Channel (How It’s Made, Junkyard Wars, Time Warp, Modern Marvels) and I know he learns a lot. The schools show episodes of Between the Lions to my first grader to help him with reading.

arnbev959's avatar

It made me stupider. After years of faithful viewing I ceased to watch television, and as a result, the clarity and speed of my thinking greatly improved. And if I were to throw away my computer, I have no doubt I’d be even better off.

Note: Most of the television I watched before I quit was Discovery channel. Still, it made a difference.

Glow's avatar

Hmm, I wonder if we should even count those who watch ONLY educational shows. I don’t know if most people who watch TV regularly even watch those educational shows as a part of their TV watching regime. Also, im sure that those who enjoy watching educational shows will probably not even enjoy watching shows such as wifeswap…. so, how about this. How about we direct the question towards those who DONT watch educational shows (but than again, I still feel like TV cant compare to actual reading, as Baloo72 stated).

@scamp – Ive been wanting to watch Planet Earth. I caught a glimpse of it while at some one elses house (of course) and I was so amazed :)

fireside's avatar

I have a degree in video production, so to me watching tv or moves is not passive.
I usually end up having to watch good movies a couple of times because I have too much to pay attention to between the acting and the story and the dialogue and the camera work and the lighting and the cuts and the pacing.

Not to mention the synapses that get fired by investing myself emotionally into something rather than watching it from an analytical point of view.

DVR has definitely been my friend. But I go through days and weeks where I can’t remember the last time I turned on the tv and then I’ll find myself watching hours and hours of programming in a day without remembering the last time I got up.

scamp's avatar

@Glow I netflixed it, and I kept it for almost a month because it was so good. You will love it. The photograhy is amazing. I think the said it took around 5 years to comile the whole thing and was very costly, but I can’t say enough about how fascinating and informative it is. If you have netflix or something similar, you should order it!!

Jack79's avatar

yah dude…duh!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

everything in moderation.

if you watch a lot of tv, you tend to do everything else a lot less (unless you’re an excellent multi-tasker, which can be the case). so it makes sense that television can result in people not being as intelligent as they would be if they spent their time doing something more productive. but there are educational shows out there, and if you’re watching those you can learn things, so…i don’t know. i guess it depends on the individual/what they’re watching/etc.

tellelefler's avatar

I think if anything, MOST television influences the ways we view the world and can lead viewers into believing that the world works differently than it really does. It contorts impressions, if that makes sense. I read a book once that stated that there was a misperception of the rate of crime in America due to all the crime shows on television. And I know growing up, I always expected everything to go the way it did in the movies and this led to a lot of disappointment (what, no pony on my 10th birthday?!). I think NatGeo, Discovery, History, channels like that are DEFINITELY educational, but as far as sitcoms, pure entertainment that’s going to contort your brain’s perceptions of the world.

Anatelostaxus's avatar

T.V. actually stands for ” Te Vulneo” Which means ” I harm you” in Latin XD

aprilsimnel's avatar

@Anatelostaxus – And in the familiar, to boot!

Isn’t that just like TV? Sure, it’ll buddy up to you with Mr Show and Doctor Who goodness, and then turn around to stab you in the brain with Rachael Ray, Judge Brown and Wolf Blitzer!

Anatelostaxus's avatar

@aprilsimnel (Anatelostaxus emits a ‘Homer Simpson’ laugh)

Anatelostaxus's avatar

yes indeed..though living abroad I’ve found many television channels that offer good, constructive and pleasant to watch documentaries…. the rest remains gobshite.

CMaz's avatar

Water was good till we polluted it.

tandra88's avatar

All you need is to watch 3 episodes of SpongeBob and you’re stupid for life. Or at least do stupid things.

marymaryquitecontrary's avatar

I think most any activity (work, driving, cooking, television watching…) can be done mindfully or mindlessly. Mindful television-watching involves maintining a questioning and critical mind. Asking questions such as why this show was written the way it was, why they chose these specific actors, and what is the meaning of the color palette selected for Sponge Bob. This type of active mind is actually made stronger by the exposure to television.

CMaz's avatar

Stupid is what stupid does.

vernon42's avatar

I don’t believe you. I bet you were in the middle of Vampire Daries when you typed this question.

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