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October, 2005 - Nr. 10


The Editor
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TV Bad For Health
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Television bad for health, education, and society, studies suggest

  TWIG - Too much television reduces children’s capacity to learn, raises their chances of obesity, and increases their tendencies towards violence, according to new studies published in the current issue of Forschung & Lehre.

Editors of the research periodical presented the results of the studies by neurologist Manfred Spitzer, psychologist Peter Winterhoff-Spurk, and sociologist Peter Sicking on Wednesday (September 28) in Bonn. Taken as a whole, they substantiate the outcomes of over 50 similar studies from around the world that point to television consumption as a contributor to some of the modern world’s major problems.

Watching too much television was found to reduce children’s chances of succeeding in school. "This effect is found in all subjects. It isn’t related to other factors, and it has a long-term effect on the level of education a child achieves," neurologist Manfred Spitzer said. Television has an especially harsh influence on children with average intelligence, Spitzer said.

The relative frequency of violent acts portrayed on television has character-changing effect on many television consumers, according to Winterhoff-Spurk.

According to the psychologist, the average high-school graduate has spent 13,000 hours in school and 25,000 hours in front of the television. In this time frame, the child has seen 32,000 murders, 40,000 attempted murders, and 200,000 violent scenes. A link between watching television and violent behavior in children has been established by many separate studies, Winterhoff-Spurk said.

Winterhoff-Spurk also warned of the increasing role that television characters play as role models to the youth of today, with nearly 70% of children naming media figures as their role models.

Peter Sicking’s study meanwhile looks at the fraction of society that avoids television, as many as 1.5 million in Germany alone. Sicking divided those for whom television plays no role into active non-watchers, those whose other activities preclude them from watching, conscious non-watchers, who criticize television as a "second-hand experience," and obsessive non-watchers, who decided for a life without TV after long a long period of unhealthy watching.

He found that whatever their reasons for not watching, the number of people who avoid television is on the rise.

Results of all three studies were published in the latest edition of Forschung & Lehre.
Republished with permission from "The Week in Germany"


Forschung & Lehre


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