The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.”   T.S. Eliot

Ray Romano's wife complained to Rolling Stone magazine that her husband spoke to his TV wife more in one episode than he spoke to her in one week at home.  "Well we have writers on the show," explained Romano. "If we had writers here, we'd be having long funny conversations."

"A new study from the University of Texas links depression and loneliness to our TV habits"  -  Salon (Jan 2015)

"TV doesn't really seem to satisfy people over the long haul the way that social involvement or reading a newspaper does. We looked at eight to ten activities that happy people engage in, and for each one, the people who did the activities more—visiting others, going to church, all those things—were more happy. TV was the one activity that showed a negative relationship. Unhappy people did it more, and happy people did it less. The data suggest to us that the TV habit may offer short-run pleasure at the expense of long-term malaise."  -  Psychology Today (Oct 2011)

"...the authors found that happy people were more socially active, attended more religious services, voted more and read more newspapers. In contrast, unhappy people watched significantly more television in their spare time." - ScienceDaily (Nov 2008) - More on the same study - Medical News Today (Nov 2008) and  The New York Times (Nov 2008)

8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV

"British children who spend most time in front of televisions and computer screens have lower self-esteem and greater emotional problems, according to a study published today by Public Health England." -  The Independent (August 2013)

"What you watch, listen to and read can affect your mood, thoughts and actions."  - Psychology Today (Jan 2013)

"Children who spend longer than two hours in front of a computer or television screen are more likely to suffer psychological difficulties, regardless of how physically active they are." - Science Daily (Oct 2010)  and  Bristol University (Oct 2010)

"Teens who spend more time watching television or using computers appear to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine..." - EurekAlert! (March 2010)  and  Science Daily (March 2010)  and  MedPage Today (March 2010)

"High levels of Television viewing and low levels of physical were both independently associated with psychological distress. An additive effect was found in that the combination of high television viewing and low physical activity was associated with the highest levels of psychological distress." - (June 2009)  and  Pediatrics (May 2009)

"Teens who spend long hours watching television are at higher risk for depression as adults, a new study finds... “We cannot be sure it is cause-and-effect,” stressed study author Dr. Brian A. Primack, an assistant professor of medicine and pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. “The reason that the study suggests it might be cause-and-effect is that the television viewing came first. It did not include people who had symptoms of depression when the study began.”"  - Health News (Feb 2009)   and   Los Angeles Times (Feb 2009)  and  The New York Times (Feb 2009)  and  Natural News (March 2009)  and  MedPage Today (Feb 2009)

"Unhappy People Watch Lots More TV. Unhappy people glue themselves to the television 30 percent more than happy people. The finding, announced on Thursday, comes from a survey of nearly 30,000 American adults conducted between 1975 and 2006 as part of the General Social Survey. "  - Live Science (Nov 2008)

"In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, 110 teachers, psychologists, children's authors and other experts call on the Government to act to prevent the death of childhood." They write: "We are deeply concerned at the escalating incidence of childhood depression and children's behavioural and developmental conditions." -

The Telegraph (Sept 2006)  and  Mail Online (Sept 2006)

"The team found that the people most satisfied with their lives were those who watched TV the least." - The Sydney Morning Herald (June 2005)

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause."  -  Business Week (Oct 2004)

"There has been a "dramatically high" connection between the rise of television and a rise in depression among America's youth, says a Penn State University researcher." - Find Articles (June 1994)

"For instance, compulsive viewers turn to television for solace when they feel distressed, rather than only watching favorite programs for pleasure. And though they get temporary emotional relief while watching, they end up feeling worse afterward." - The New York Times (Oct 1990)

"Studies show that rates of depression for Americans have risen dramatically in the past 50 years."  - Psychology Today (Feb 2014)

"Second, we really are getting “sicker.” The high prevalence of mental illness in the United States isn’t only because we’ve gotten better at detecting mental illness. More of us are mentally ill than in previous generations, and our mental illness is manifesting at earlier points in our lives. One study supporting this explanation took the scores on a measure of anxiety of children with psychological problems in 1957 and compared them with the scores of today’s average child. Today’s children—not specifically those identified as having psychological problems, as were the 1957 children—are more anxious than those in previous generations. Another study compared cohorts of American adults on the personality trait of neuroticism, which indicates emotional reactivity and is associated with anxiety. Americans scored higher on neuroticism in 1993 than they did in 1963, suggesting that as a population we are becoming more anxious. Another study compared the level of narcissism among cohorts of American college students between 1982 and 2006 and found that more recent cohorts are more narcissistic."  - Slate (April 2013)

"The evidence for an epidemic of depression is very clear and has been heavily discussed in the clinical literature. For Americans born a century ago, the chances of suffering any episode of major depression in the lifetime was only about 1 percent. Today, the lifetime incidence is 19.2 percent (1). This implies a relative increase of some 2,000 percent. Yet, even that estimate understates the problem because depression is becoming more prevalent in the young and is striking at ever-younger ages. Similar patterns are reported in other countries." - Psychology Today Blog (Sept 2011)

"On this blog, I have warned about the growing epidemic of severe depression in the USA, pointing to signs that this growing wave of depression is concentrated in the young." - Psychology Today Blog (Jan 2011)

"The emotional health of college freshmen — who feel buffeted by the recession and stressed by the pressures of high school — has declined to the lowest level since an annual survey of incoming students started collecting data 25 years ago." - The New York Times (Jan 2011)

"Over the last several decades, both through good economic times and bad, the United States has transformed into the planet's undisputed worry champion. Around the turn of the millennium, anxiety flew past depression as the most prominent mental health issue in America, and it's never looked back: With more than 18 percent of adults suffering from an anxiety disorder in any given year, the United States is now the most anxious nation in the world, according to the National Institute of Mental Health." - Slate (Jan 2011)

"A new study has found that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era." - USA Today (Jan 2010), and   Psychology Today Blog (April 2010)  and  Psychology Today Blog (Jan 2010)

"Mental illnesses including anxiety disorders and depression are common and under-treated in many developed and developing countries, with the highest rate found in the United States, according to a study of 14 countries." - MSNBC (July 2004)

The Importance of Reading

"Want to Live Longer? Be Wealthier? And Happier? Here is the One PROVEN Secret: Reading!" -

"Those Who Read Fiction Better at Reading People" -

"7 Unconventional Reasons Why You Absolutely Should Be Reading Books" -   Huffington Post (Oct 2013)

"That’s the conclusion of a new study, which finds that, compared with mainstream fiction, high-brow literary works do more to improve our ability to understand the thoughts, emotions, and motivations of those around us." -  Huffington Post (Oct 2013)  and  NPR (Oct 2013)  and  Science (Oct 2013) 

"Prompted by a theory that Raymond Mar and I published in 2008 in which we argued that empathy is increased by reading fiction, Dan Johnson (2012), of Washington and Lee University, conducted two studies in which he confirmed this theory, and made an important addition." - Psychology Today (Nov 2011)

"While previous treatments—painkillers, physiotherapy, acupuncture, hyperbaric oxygen therapy—have failed, the self-prescribed reading cure works." - Daily Good (Oct 2010)

"Those who read Chekhov's story changed significantly more in their personality traits and emotions than those who read the non-fiction-style courtroom report. The changes in personality were small but measurable, and they were mediated by their emotions: the more emotion people felt when reading, the larger the change in personality." - Psychology Today Blog (Sept 2010)

"What Would Jane Do? How a 19th-century spinster serves as a moral compass in today's world" - The Wall Street Journal (Nov 2009)

"By imagining many possible worlds, argues novelist and psychologist Keith Oat­ley, fiction helps us understand ourselves and others." - Sharp Brains (Sept 2009)

"Reading is the best way to relax and even six minutes can be enough to reduce the stress levels by more than two thirds, according to new research." -  Telegraph (March 2009) 

"Socially awkward? Hit the books" -  The Globe and Mail (July 2008)

"The therapeutic value of blogging becomes a focus of study" - Scientific American (May 2008)

"... when it comes to preventing depression in teenagers, a self-help book might actually be more effective." - BP Research Digest (April 2007)

"Plans to prescribe self-help books to people with mental health problems throughout Wales have been cautiously welcomed by patients' groups." -  BBC (July 2005) 

Some Books Have Negative Effects

"New research suggests novels in which characters agonize about their bodies lead female readers to do the same" -  Salon (Jan 2013) 

There are a number of ways that TV contributes to depression:

- Contrast Effect

- Objectification

- Boredom

- Traumatic TV

- Less Sleep

- Less Exercise

- Less Trust

- Less Empathy

- Less Kindness

- Social Isolation

- Consumerism / Materialism

- Depressed Society

- Assorted

Contrast Effect

TV is a combination of beautiful people, dressed by fashion experts, put into chic locations, surrounded by expensive toys, and given plotlines and dialogue by extremely bright, talented and funny writers.  No one can compare with that.

But compare we do, and in comparison our lives can seem pretty drab and pathetic.

Why I Hate Beauty (2008)

Why I Hate Beauty (2001)

The Beautiful People Syndrome

"Are you a sucker for romantic shows and movies like "Pretty Woman?" Turns out, the more people believe in these unrealistic portrayals of romance on TV, the less likely they are to be committed to their real-life relationships, a new study finds." - Live Science (Sept 2012)

"Social comparison theory suggests that we can't help but compare ourselves and our life circumstances to those around us. " - Psychology Today Blogs (Feb 2011)

"Romantic Realism and Romantic Relationships" - Psychology Today Blogs (Oct 2010)

"Do Relationships Need to be Entertaining?" - Psychology Today Blogs (April 2010)

"We're being told that there is a space on television and in popular culture more broadly for women who defy conventional beauty norms, women who are "ugly." Hell, there's a whole show about a woman who's ugly! It's right there in the title! But in reality, those "ugly" women look an awful lot like the beautiful ones." - (March 2010)

"A good example of this is what I call "romantic realism." These are images that are similar to the world we live in, but somehow better. Think, for example, of a TV ad for food: the beautiful food sizzles and bursts with flavorful color, it is surrounded by gorgeous people having great fun as they consume the food. It's like life, but better" - Psychology Today Blogs (Jan 2010)

"Wolf goes on to tell us that Angelina has it all, she has Brad Pitt, first of all, but also she cares for "half a football team of children", does good deeds, all the while looking like...Angelina Jolie. And in so doing she shows all women that they too can have it all. I demur. Images can be made to look like they have it all, but people don't. The person Angelina Jolie undoubtedly has disappointments, messes up, and doesn't look like "Angelina Jolie" much of the time. But even more important than the fact that people don't have it all is that people don't need to have it all, and setting that up as a goal is a recipe for constant dissatisfaction. Be a celebrity atheist, give up on the conviction that celebrities prove there's a perfect life out there, and focus instead on doing your best in an imperfect but also kind of remarkable world." - Psychology Today Blogs (Aug 2009)

"The researchers say that by looking at idealized, sexualized women,  guys feel less-than because they start thinking they need to measure up on the attractiveness scale to snag such a mate."  - MSNBC (Nov 2008)

"Many studies have shown that media images of female models have had a negative impact on how woman view their own bodies, but does this same effect hold true when men view male models? A leading researcher of media effects on body image at the University of Missouri looked at the effect of male magazines on college-age men." - Science Daily (Nov 2008)

"The rail-thin blonde bombshell on the cover of a magazine makes all women feel badly about their own bodies despite the size, shape, height or age of the viewers. A new University of Missouri-Columbia study found that all women were equally and negatively affected after viewing pictures of models in magazine ads for just three minutes." - Science Daily (March 2007)

"Desperate Housewives and other TV soap operas may help make adolescent girls desperate for a thinness few can healthily achieve, new Australian research suggests." - HealthDay News (June 2005)

"We found men who were exposed to images of the so-called "ideal" male became more depressed and significantly more dissatisfied with the size and shape of their own muscular build once they were exposed to those commercials." - Ivanhoe Broadcast News (May 2005)

"Magazine ads featuring female fashion models have an immediate negative impact on a woman's self-esteem, according to a University of Toronto study published in the International Journal of Eating Disorders." - Science Daily (April 1999)


"The results showed that the more a woman self-objectified (valued her appearance over her competence), the more likely she was to NOT say she would be willing to do things to promote women's rights. And further, this was entirely due to these women believing more strongly that the way things are for women now are they way they should be." - Psychology Today (March 2013)

"Objectification suppresses women’s desire to engage in social activism, study finds" - Raw Story (Feb 2013)

"Over time, exposure to objectifying images can lead to self-objectification, which involves taking an observer's perspective on one's own body and chronically monitoring one's physical appearance. In a famous set of studies, female participants were randomly assigned to try on either a swimsuit or a sweater and complete a series of tasks. Women in the swimsuit condition felt more body shame, which in turn led them to engage in more restrained eating (i.e., leaving part of a cookie behind rather than finishing it off, suggesting that they liked the cookie but felt guilty eating all of it). They also performed worse on a math test, suggesting that their attentional resources may have been drained by the experience of trying on the swimsuit." - Psychology Today (Oct 2012)

"A team of social psychologists headed by University of Mary Washington’s Mariam Liss (2011) wanted to find out whether women feel more empowered or more oppressed by their identification with a sexualized image." - Psychology Today (Oct 2012)

"Why 6-Year-Old Girls Want To Be Sexy" - Huffington Post (July 2012)

"Girls in grown-up, sexualized clothes rated as less intelligent and moral " - Psychology Today (Sept 2012)

"A study by University at Buffalo sociologists has found that the portrayal of women in the popular media over the last several decades has become increasingly sexualized, even "pornified." The same is not true of the portrayal of men." - Science Daily (August 2011)

"When they looked at what they called "hypersexualized" images, they found that while men were increasingly portrayed as "sexy," they were not portrayed as "sex objects" - ready and available for sex - in the way that women were.  In other words, while men are being depicted as more overtly sexy than they used to be, they are still largely portrayed as the master of their own sexuality.  This is in contrast to the portrayal of what is beautiful, feminine, or sexy for women: women a passive object for someone else's sexual pleasure."  -  Psychology Today (Aug 2011)

"Sexual Objectification Reduces Pain Concern"  -  Psychology Today (May 2011)

"New Feminist Coalition Slams Sexed-Up Images of Girls" - Alternet (Oct 2010)

"Male Brain Sees Sexy Women as Non-Human" - Psychology Today Blog (Aug 2010)

"It suggests some women who are objectified by men internalize this perception and think of themselves as “a sexual object to be scrutinized.” For reasons that are not entirely clear, this process appears to undermine their cognitive ability." - Alternet (April 2010)

"A steady diet of exploitative, sexually provocative depictions of women feeds a poisonous trend in women's and girl's perceptions of their bodies, one that has recently been recognized by social scientists as self-objectification -- viewing one's body as a sex object to be consumed by the male gaze." - Alternet (Aug 2008)

"A report of the American Psychological Association (APA) released today found evidence that the proliferation of sexualized images of girls and young women in advertising, merchandising, and media is harmful to girls' self-image and healthy development." - Science Daily (Feb 2007)

"Report of the APA Task Force on the Sexualization of Girls" - American Psychological Association (2007)

"SPARK - Sexualization Protest: Action, Resistance, Knowledge" - SPARK


"We wondered whether heavy viewers might experience life differently than light viewers do. Do they dislike being with people more? Are they more alienated from work? What we found nearly leaped off the page at us. Heavy viewers report feeling significantly more anxious and less happy than light viewers do in unstructured situations, such as doing nothing, daydreaming or waiting in line. The difference widens when the viewer is alone." - Scientific American (Feb 2002)

"Our culture's obsession with external sources of entertainment—TV, movies, the Internet, video games—may also play a role in increasing boredom. "I think there is something about our modern experience of sensory overload where there is not the chance and ability to figure out what your interests, what your passions are" - Scientific American (Feb 2007)

"Encouraging children to entertain themselves in mentally active and imaginative ways and to avoid passive, quick-fix entertainment could also reduce boredom. “We provide children lots of entertainment in the form of television and iPods to prevent them from developing their inner skills to contend with boredom,” Sundberg says. Engaging in active entertainment, such as playing sports or games, is also much more likely to produce flow, Csikszentmihalyi says. Developing ways to cope with boredom may even help cure other ills. For example, some research hints that if former drug addicts learn to deal effectively with boredom, they are less likely to relapse. In an ongoing study of 156 addicts at a methadone clinic at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City, Todman found that the addicts’ reported level of boredom was the only reliable indicator of whether they would stay clean." - Scientific American (Dec 2007)

Traumatic TV

"But those of us without mental illness could be affected in different, subtler ways that could have a major long-term impact. “When I’ve done studies and people watch coverage of, say, 9/11, they don’t then meet criteria for depression in the DSM,” she said. “But if you ask them how they feel about the world, what they end up with is this malaise: ‘Everything’s kinda bad’ and ‘Why should I vote? It’s not gonna help’ and ‘I could donate money, but there’s just gonna be another kid who’s starving next week.’”"  - Science of Us (August 2014)

"Just how stressful is it to glue yourself to media coverage of a horrific event like the Sandy Hook massacre, the 9/11 attacks, or last year's Boston Marathon bombings? In some cases, it may be more stressful than direct exposure to the event."  - Mother Jones (Dec 2013)

"Researchers at UC Irvine revealed that exposure to traumatic images on the news could lead to post-traumatic stress symptoms over time. Those watching four hours of day of TV news coverage after 9/11 and the start of the Iraq War were more likely to report physical health problems in the years following exposure."  - New York Daily News (Sept 2012)

"We found that those people who had watched the negative news bulletin spent more time thinking and talking about their worry and were more likely to catastrophise their worry than people in the other two groups." - Psychology Today (June 2012)

"As we approach Halloween, it is important for adults to remember to be sensitive to the needs of children. Joanne Cantor has documented how seeing the wrong movie (e.g., teen horror movie) at the wrong time (under 12) can scar a person for years (e.g., making them afraid of the dark, needing to sleep with a light on)." - Psychology Today (Oct 2010)

"Long-Term Memories of Frightening Media Often Include Lingering Trauma Symptoms" - Psychology Today Blog (July 2010)

"In a national survey of U.S. adults, 3-5 days after the September 11th, 2001 attacks, people reported watching an average of 8 hours of television related to the attacks. Those who watched the most coverage had more substantial stress reactions than those who watch less television coverage." - The National Center for PTSD (March 2010)

"Toddlers and young children who watch violent movies, including Halloween horror films, television shows or video games may be more likely to develop anxiety, sleep disorders, and aggressive and self-endangering behaviors."  -  Science Daily (Oct 2006)

"When the U.S. invaded Iraq last year, families of soldiers watched combat on live TV, covered for the first time by “embedded” reporters. Witnessing real-time battles added much additional stress, according to a study of families by the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York." - Psychology Today (March 2004)

"Traumatic news footage on TV can seem so real that our brains respond to it emotionally" - Psychology Today (Jan 2004)

"It is certainly a good thing to know what is going on. But being glued to the TV is not good. People who spend all of their time watching TV news coverage can become more frightened, more withdrawn, and maybe even more depressed."  -  WebMD (March 2003)

"sleep disturbances and stomach ailments were frequently reported as resulting from a child's viewing of something frightening on TV" - Parenthood in America (1998)

"People are often unprepared for the elemental emotions that emerge from watching tragic news segments and respond by emotionally turning off." - Psychology Today (March 1992)

"sleep disturbances and stomach ailments were frequently reported as resulting from a child's viewing of something frightening on TV" - Parenthood in America

The 'mean-world' syndrome

Less Sleep

"Interestingly, the researchers found that those children who fell asleep later spent more time watching TV. This may be because of the content, or the increased light exposure. Regardless or the cause, it is consistent with what other researchers have found, and suggests that limiting screen time (or eliminating it altogether) may be an effective strategy for helping children and adolescents get an appropriate amount of sleep. This is important, as we know that insufficient sleep adversely affects cognition and behavior, as well as physical and emotional wellbeing." - Psychology Today (June 2013)

"The more TV children watch before bedtime, the less sleep they get, researchers found." - MedPage Today (Jan 2013)

"What your kids watch on TV can affect how well they sleep, a new study suggests. Published in the journal Pediatrics, the study found that when parents intervened in their kids’ media diet -- reducing exposure to violent and age-inappropriate content and replacing it with age-appropriate, educational and empathy-building content such as "Curious George,""Sesame Street" and "Dora the Explorer" -- the children had fewer sleep problems, less aggression, and increased empathetic and friendly behaviors." -  Los Angeles Times (August 2012)  and  Pediatrics (August 2012)  and  Psychology Today (June 2013)  and  Huffington Post (August 2012)  and  USA Today (August 2012)  and  Deseret News (August 2012)

"Based on the parents’ reports, scientists discovered a significant increase in these sleep problems for children who were exposed to violent media content. Children who watched television in the evenings—after 7 p.m.—were also significantly more likely to suffer from one or several of these sleep issues."  -  Psychology Today (July 2011)

"A new study to be released today by the journal Pediatrics found that preschoolers with televisions in their bedrooms had greater difficulties falling and staying asleep. The researchers also found a connection between watching children watching violent television programming during the day and subsequent sleep disturbances."  -  Psychology Today (June 2011)

"On insufficient sleep, television, and a better sex life" -  Psychology Today Blog (March 2010)

"According to new research presented at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies,* television watching may be an important determinant of bedtime, and may contribute to chronic sleep debt... Earlier parental-mandated bedtimes could help protect teens from depression and suicidal thoughts by lengthening sleep duration, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 9, at Sleep 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies." - Science Daily (June 2009)

"Television Watching Before Bedtime Can Lead To Sleep Debt" - Science Daily (June 2009)

"Children With TVs Or Computers In Their Room Sleep Less" - Science Daily (Sept 2008)

"A growing body of research is finding that infants and children under the age of 3 who watch TV — even too much TV during the day — struggle with interrupted sleep and irregular bed and naptime schedules.  A recent study found that children under age 3 who watch television are at higher risk of disturbed sleep. Other studies have looked at the effects of TV viewing on older children and teens, and also found a link between TV, poor sleep and later bedtimes." -  Health Blog (Feb 2008) 

"Adolescents who watched 3 or more hours of television per day during adolescence were at a significantly elevated risk for frequent sleep problems by early adulthood. This elevation in risk remained significant after offspring age, sex, previous sleep problems, offspring psychiatric disorders, offspring neglect, parental educational level, parental annual income, and parental psychiatric symptoms were controlled statistically. Adolescents who reduced their television viewing from 1 hour or longer to less than 1 hour per day experienced a significant reduction in risk for subsequent sleep problems. Sleep problems during adolescence were not independently associated with subsequent television viewing when prior television viewing was controlled."  -  JAMA Pediatrics (June 2004)

"When their insomnia was fixed following CBT, depression treatment success doubled. Get them to sleep and they stopped being depressed." - Psychology Today (Nov 2013)

"Being physically active leads to better sleep."  - Psychology Today (April 2013)

"Skimping on sleep can increase the risk for common psychological problems such as low mood and anxiety, according to a large prospective study." - MedPage Today (Sept 2010)

"A study in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep found that adolescents with bedtimes that were set earlier by parents were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and to think about committing suicide, suggesting that earlier bedtimes could have a protective effect by lengthening sleep duration and increasing the likelihood of getting enough sleep." - E! Science News (Jan 2010)

"In Defense of a Good Night's Sleep"  -  Psychology Today (Oct 2009)

"Feelings of depression and low self-esteem plague children as they advance through middle school because they get increasingly less sleep, according to a new study of 2,259 Illinois students."  -  Science Daily (Feb 2004)

"But it may be that insomnia is more than just a symptom of depression. It may in fact unleash the mood disorder."  -  Psychology Today (July 2003)

Less Exercise

"There is a great deal of evidence that exercise not only improves mood and enhances well being but also is an effective intervention for depression. That is, well-conducted clinical trials have repeatedly shown mood benefit from exercise in adults with clinical depression. Indeed, there is evidence that exercise provides benefits at levels similar to that found for antidepressant medication."  -  Psychology Today (July 2011)

"Fortunately, there is an alternative approach to rewarding health behaviors. Unlike the physical health benefits of exercise, the mood benefits are immediately linked to exercise.  Population-based studies and well-controlled clinical trials have provided consistent evidence that exercise improves well-being; decreases depression, anxiety, and hostility; and offers greater feelings of social connectedness. In controlled clinical trials, programmed exercise can provide depression relief that rivals that provided by antidepressant medication.  Indeed, depending on the intensity of exercise, mood benefits are often felt within a few minutes of completion of exercise, providing the tightly-linked contingency important for behavior change. "  -  Psychology Today (August 2011)

Less Trust

"What's the connection? When you believe that your neighbors are generally trustworthy, you're more likely to interact with them. Whether it's a chat by the mailbox, a helping hand with packages, or simply a wave and a smile, this type of interaction can lift your mood, reduce your stress, and instill a sense of belonging. " - Psychology Today (Sept 2011)

"Mean World Syndrome" -  Wikipedia

"Gerbner’s idea holds that if we think the world is a "mean" and violent and unsafe place, the kind of world we see again and again in both the news and so much entertainment media; we live our lives accordingly. We buy guns to protect ourselves (guns purchased for self-protection are far more likely to go off in accidents, suicides, or in crimes against others). We live in gated communities. We support candidates who promise to keep us safe, and policies like the Patriot Act that cede civil liberties in the name of safety. A mean and worrying world causes us to magnify our fears of anything, be it terrorism or industrial chemicals or economic uncertainty; sometimes prompting personal choices or social policies that feel right but do us more harm than good."  -  Psychology Today (July 2012).

Less Empathy

"College students today are significantly less empathic than students of the 80's or 90's, according to a new study by the University of Michigan. The 30-year longitudinal study of nearly 14,000 students found a 40% drop in empathy from the late 70's, with the sharpest decline occurring after the year 2000." -  Psychology Today Blog (May 2010)  and  Science Daily (May 2010)  and (May 2010)

"Worse, much of the time that used to be spent playing outdoors is now spent in front of screens. Television, obviously cannot teach empathy. Even nonviolent kids' TV, research finds, is filled with indirect aggression and linked to increased real-world bullying." -  Psychology Today Blog (May 2010)

"This difference raises the question of why? Researchers Konrath and O'Brien hazard a few guesses, most related to the increase in exposure to and use of media. For example, many in this current generation have had repeated lifetime exposure to violent video games and films, and there is a growing body of research suggesting that violent video games (and perhaps films) are a cause of increased aggressive behavior, thoughts, and feelings, and a decrease in empathy and prosocial behavior across both gender and culture." -  Psychology Today Blog (June 2010)

Review of "Generation Me"

"Have We Become a Nation of Narcissists?"

"Is there an epidemic of narcissism today?"

"The "debate" about narcissism increasing: More twists than a crime novel "

"I'm particularly fascinated by the negative influences of narcissism and perfectionism in our lives, as these are traits that seem to be celebrated in many ways in modern American culture. For example, many cultural heroes of popular TV shows, particularly those shows that portray the lives of doctors, lawyers and successful business people, are hard-driving individuals who seem to have no life other than work. What each shares is a grandiose sense of his or her own self-importance that is central to the definition of narcissism."

"Does An Early Development of Empathy Prevent Addiction?" -  Psychology Today Blog (June 2010)

"Prompted by a theory that Raymond Mar and I published in 2008 in which we argued that empathy is increased by reading fiction, Dan Johnson (2012), of Washington and Lee University, conducted two studies in which he confirmed this theory, and made an important addition." - Psychology Today (Nov 2011)

Less Kindness

"Children who make an effort to perform acts of kindness are happier and experience greater acceptance from their peers, suggests new research from the University of British Columbia and the University of California, Riverside."  - eScience News (Dec 2012)  and  BBC News (Dec 2012)

"They successfully spread rumours, damage relationships, distort reality, and destroy the reputations of those in their inner circle, while appearing the nicest, prettiest, and most popular people in school. (See the boxes

below and on the following pages for further examples of indirect aggression in the media.)"  -   The Psychologist (Dec 2004) 

Social Isolation

"Social isolation impairs immune function and boosts inflammation, which can lead to arthritis, type II diabetes, and heart disease. Loneliness is breaking our hearts, but as a culture we rarely talk about it.

Loneliness has doubled: 40 percent of adults in two recent surveys said they were lonely, up from 20 percent in the 1980s."  - Slate (August 2013)

"In the Age of Social Media, People Say They Want More Real Friends. An innovative study reveals that more than 75% of Americans are unhappy with their friendships."  - Alternet (May 2013)

"Loneliness is the unspoken diagnosis of our time." - Psychology Today (March 2013)

"Therefore, Steptoe's research team set out to differentiate the effects of loneliness from those of social isolation. The researchers studied 6,500 men and women aged 52 and older who enrolled in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing in 2004. Steptoe and his colleagues assessed the participants’ risk of death through March 2012. Limited contact with family, friends, and community organizations meant that a participant was classified as socially isolated, and a questionnaire was used to measure loneliness. Steptoe's team found that social isolation was more important than loneliness. It was related to greater risk of dying even after age and background health were taken into account." - Psychology Today (March 2013)

"Socially Isolated Rats are More Vulnerable to Addiction, Report Researchers"  - University of Texas (Jan 2013)

"Pets are loving and fun, but cannot provide the real social ties that are essential to thriving as a human being. We found (and other studies confirm), however, that being involved with real, live people really does help tremendously, whether it is a good marriage, being active in community or religious organizations, or helping others. Even close, extended families were generally health-promoting." - Psychology Today (Aug 2012)

"But it is clear that social interaction matters. Loneliness and being alone are not the same thing, but both are on the rise. We meet fewer people. We gather less. And when we gather, our bonds are less meaningful and less easy. The decrease in confidants—that is, in quality social connections—has been dramatic over the past 25 years. In one survey, the mean size of networks of personal confidants decreased from 2.94 people in 1985 to 2.08 in 2004. Similarly, in 1985, only 10 percent of Americans said they had no one with whom to discuss important matters, and 15 percent said they had only one such good friend. By 2004, 25 percent had nobody to talk to, and 20 percent had only one confidant." - The Atlantic (May 2012)

"Teens who spend more time watching television or using computers appear to have poorer relationships with their parents and peers, according to a report in the March issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals." - Science Daily (March 2010)

"Sometimes people ask, “If you had to pick just one thing, what would be the one secret to a happy life?” The answer is clear: strong bonds with other people. If I had to pick one thing, that’s it. The wisdom of the ages and the current scientific studies agree on this point." - Psychology Today Blog (Nov 2009)

"The research provides evidence for the 'social surrogacy hypothesis,' which holds that humans can use technologies, like television, to provide the experience of belonging when no real belongingness has been experienced," says one of the study's authors, Shira Gabriel, Ph.D., UB assistant professor of psychology." - Science Daily (April 2009)  and  Live Science (April 2009)

Childhood TV and gaming is 'major public health issue'

Parents, children lose art of conversation

The Decline of Civic Engagement or Trading the Elks Club For Seinfeld

Lonely in Las Vegas

(Study Reveals Negative Potential of Heavy Internet Use on Emotional Well Being)

TV also contributes to depression by causing social isolation.  The over 4 hours in front of the TV every day that Americans spend, is time not spent with friends and family.

As far as depression goes, staring at a blank wall is better for you than watching TV.  With a blank wall, people get bored and lonely, and then get up and do something.  If they feel lonely enough, they get up the courage to go speak to someone.  TV makes people feel like they have enough friends, and thus don't need to make an effort to make more friends.

"Americans are more socially isolated today than we were barely two decades ago." - Time Magazine (June 2006)

"Americans' Circle of Friends Is Shrinking" - Science Daily (June 2006)

"In 1985, when researchers asked a cross-section of Americans how many confidants they had, the most common response was three. When they asked again in 2004, the most common answer -- from 25% of respondents -- was zero, nil, nada." - The Los Angeles Times (Feb 2009)

"Researchers believe that in a media-orientated society, celebrities have taken the place of neighbors, relatives, friends and family for many people. They feel that the respect for family members has been replaced by worship of the famous, as this is the new method of associating with success." - Wikipedia

"the benefits of watching television when lonely, which seems to provide the same sort of emotional relief as spending time with real people" -  The Frontal Cortex (July 2009)

"They find that people who are anxious over and preoccupied with their real world relationships are more likely than others to feel an intense interpersonal connection to their favorite TV characters." -  Psychology Today Blog (Feb 2008)

"The best research confirms it: Americans are now perilously isolated. In a recent comprehensive study by scientists at Duke University, researchers have observed a sharp decline in social connectedness over the past 20 years." -  Psychology Today Blog (July 2009)

TV hogs the dinner table "As families become busier, they run the risk of developing the "home-alone-together" syndrome.  They live under the same roof, but co-exist separately in their own emotional silos."

Social Isolation Kills, But How and Why?

"But the researchers found that in collectivistic nations, such as East Asia, where nearly 80% of the population is genetically susceptible to depression, "the actual prevalence of depression is significantly lower than in individualistic nations, such as the United States and Western Europe."" - USA Today (Oct 2009)

Running Alone May Offer Diminished Rewards

"Exercising together appears to increase the level of the feel-good endorphin hormones naturally released during physical exertion, a study suggests." - BBC News (Sept 2009)

Being a loner reduces immunity and heart health

The perils of going solo

Loneliness Is Bad For Your Health

Because TV soothes low self-esteem people who are depressed will often seek out TV as a distraction.  But as with most addictions, the object of their desire just makes them feel worse.

"People with strong social ties live longer than those who are isolated. Making time for close relationships is as vital as many other things people do. Socially connected people are less prone to stress. "

"Relationships with other people are what make us the happiest"  -  The Happiness Institute (Jan 2012)

"The researchers suggest a different take - that social bonds may reduce the risk of addiction, especially the supportive bonds found in long-term relationships. This is consistent with previous human research, which has shown that both perceived social support and adult attachment style - how secure you feel in close relationships- predict lifetime prevalence of substance abuse. The less social support and less relationship security, the greater the risk of addiction."  -  Psychology Today (June 2011)

"A network of good friends, rather than close family ties, helps you live longer in older age, suggests research in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health."

Updating the Helper Therapy Principle

"However, a recent study in Italy showed that people who had a television in the bedroom had half as much sex as those who didn’t, and that certain programmes – violent films and reality TV – were passion killers for one-third of couples."

"In the May issue of Computers in Human Behavior, a research team led by Irena Stepanikova of South Carolina reports evidence connecting increased Web use with increased loneliness  and decreased life satisfaction."

"It turns out that physical hardship seems to be less damaging to well being than social hardship." - Psychology Today Blog (July 2010)

Consumerism / Materialism

"As well as demonstrating that changes in materialism can predict changes in wellbeing, the paper also introduced an intervention to discourage materialism in adolescents. This three-session financial education program was designed to reduce spending and promote both sharing and saving. Topics included advertising and consumer culture, tracking spending behavior, and integrating sharing and saving into a financial plan. Of the 71 adolescents (aged 10 to 17 years) involved in the study, those who were randomly assigned to the education group became less materialistic after participating in the intervention. Notably, adolescents who began with high materialistic values when assigned to the intervention group reported increased self-esteem over time, while those assigned to the no-treatment control group reported decreased self-esteem. Other studies have also found that boosting adolescents’ self-esteem not only discourages materialistic values, but also eliminates age differences in materialism.[2] These age differences reflect the period between middle childhood and early adolescence when adolescents are more likely to experience low self-esteem and pursue materialistic goals." - Psychology Today (March 2014)

"Buying Happiness: The Depressing Reality of Materialism"  -  The Briar Patch (Sept 2007)

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause."  -  Business Week (Oct 2004)

"A new study shows that kids who watch lots of TV ads are more likely to suffer from depression, anxiety, stomachaches and other problems."  -  Salon (Sept 2004)

"Watching TV thus creates something of treadmill... television viewing plays a key role in crowding-out social activities with solitary ones... television can play a significant role in raising people's materialism and material aspirations, thus leading individuals to underestimate the relative importance of interpersonal relations for their life satisfaction and, as a consequence, to over-invest in income-producting activities and under-invest in relational activities..."  - Cognitive Surplus by Clay Shirkey (page 8)

Depressed Society

Evolution Of Despair by Robert Wright gives an excellent overview of the effects of modern society and television on people's psyches.

Public Health Clinic Study Links 'Americanization' And Depression

Depression rates rise over generations - studies show that younger persons are subject to the disorder more than in former years

"The authors also find that over the last century, Americans, both men and women, have gotten steadily—and hugely—less happy."

Researchers at Yale University have found that heavy TV viewing contributes to decreased attention spans and impatience with delay, as well as general feelings of boredom and distraction.

"A new study has found that five times as many high school and college students are dealing with anxiety and other mental health issues as youth of the same age who were studied in the Great Depression era." - USA Today (Jan 2010), and Psychology Today Blog (Jan 2010)


Television and the Quality of Life: How Viewing Shapes Everyday Experience (1990)


“People who procrastinate tend to be less healthy, less wealthy and less happy” - with TV contributing to procrastination

Does Watching TV Make Us Happy? - Opportunity Costs & TV

"Is your junk food habit making you depressed? Processed food can bring down your mood, a new study finds" (Since TV commercials encourages more junk food)  -  MSNBC (Jan 2010)

"Does Television Viewing Lead to Appetitive Helplessness?"  -  Psychological Report (1991)

"While popular TV shows of past generations, such as "Happy Days," focused on values including benevolence, self-acceptance and tradition, today's shows emphasize fame as the No. 1 value, according to a new study."  -  Live Science (July 2011)  and  Liberty Voice (August 2013)

"According to new British research, time spent listening to the radio makes people happier and gives them higher energy levels overall compared to television viewing and surfing the Internet."  -  Natural News (July 2011)  and  Telegraph (June 2011)


"Exercise reorganizes the brain to be more resilient to stress"  - Science Codex (July 2013)

"New study links physical fitness with resilience."  - Psychology Today (Feb 2013)

"The Happiness Project, is an account of the year she spent test-driving studies and theories about how to be happier." - The Happiness Project

"Guess what's been reported to be the number one contributor to happiness?

Money? No.

Good looks? Nope.

Popularity? Still nope.

A hot sex life? Guess again!

According to a report by The Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, all these mentioned life goodies were topped by the biggest life goodie of them all: "autonomy" - defined as "the feeling that your life - its activities and habits -- are self-chosen and self-endorsed.""  - Psychology Today (June 2011)

"After six months, women who had participated in art therapy showed significant improvements in their overall quality of life, general health, physical health, and psychological health;" -  Psychology Today Blog (April 2009)

"Banting knew what we all discover sooner or later - that everyone needs to recharge their mental batteries. Creative people know that there is nothing like recreations to recreate the creative charge. Make things and make them your own, whether paintings or quilts or songs or poems or birdhouses." -  Psychology Today Blog (Dec 2009)

"'Precious' and the Power of Writing" -  Psychology Today Blog (Nov 2009)

"It's a Wonderful Life" – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Depression" -  Psychology Today Blog (Dec 2009)

"The coach made the suggestion to ditch the cell phones for a simple reason: He was trying to "bring his players together." The players described the difference giving up their cell phones made: They talked and interacted. Previously, when the players traveled together, they weren't really together. They were on the same bus, in the same dining room, in the same hotel, but in a different mental space. The players were texting and talking with someone else, someplace else. When the phones were put away, suddenly they were in the same mental space. They interacted, they talked, and they "learned about each other," said one player, D'Andre Bell." -  Psychology Today Blog (March 2010)

"Many of the boys, girls, men and women we studied for so many years were happy and healthy because of the meaningful lives they led—that is, lives full of dedicated work, genuine friends, and dependable lifestyles. Laughter from the joys of accomplishment and involvement turned out to be an indicator of thriving, but watching the funniest TV shows all evening while you sit alone and eat is definitely not the ticket to health." - Psychology Today Blogs (April 2011)

"Aristotle pulls no punches here, in part because he is concerned with how we ought to live our lives, with what it is that will make us truly happy. And it is clear that he does not think that amusing ourselves will do the trick. This makes sense, given his other beliefs. As you know if you've read some of my earlier posts on Aristotle, he thinks that human fulfillment comes as we order our lives around developing and expressing moral and intellectual virtues, such as courage, wisdom, generosity, and understanding." - Psychology Today Blog (Feb 2011)

Recommended Websites

Bowling Alone 

Campaign For A Commercial-Free Childhood

Ellen Currey Wilson – The Big Turnoff 

Herber Valley Unplugged

I’m Missing All Of My Shows 

Instead of TV 

Kill Your Television 

Media by Choice

Media Violence Resource Center

People Unplugged

Plato's Cave

Play Unplugged

Screen Free Project

Screen Free Week

Television vs Children 

The New Citizen

Trash Your TV

Turn Off That TV

TV Smarter - Blog 

TV Stinks 

Unplug Your Kids 

White Dot 

White Dot – Forum 

Recommended Articles

"Television Addiction Is No Mere Metaphor"

University of Otago research - TV and Academic Achievement

University of Otago research - TV and Crime

Unplug Your Brain - by Jerry Mander

Why Turnoff Completely

The Dangers of TV

TV Promoting Guns

Television and Children (University of Michigan)

Strangers in Our Homes: TV and Our Children's Minds

Excerpted from Endangered Minds - Kids' Brains Must Be Different

How Background TV Undermines Well-Being

Electronic Screen Syndrome and the rise of mental disorders in children

1000 studies over 30 years

selling audiences to advertisers

How TV Teaches Stupidity

8 Changes I Experienced After Giving Up TV

Top 5 reasons NOT to watch TV this Fall

Spudding Out

Why TV Undermines Academics & Values

Newsweek is Bad for Kids

Bowling Alone - The Strange Disappearance of Civic America

TV Legitimizing Torture

The Assault on Reason

Twilight of the Books

Evolution Of Despair

Alzheimer's & TV

Preventing Obesity

Trained to Kill

Mind-altering media

Effects of TV - Before & After

A Powerful, Massive Protest: Diminish the Corporate Media's Power by Turning off Your TV for Good!

5 Ways Parents May Be Sabotaging Their Kids’ Health

Food companies manipulate kids and parents to create lifelong loyal customers

Is an overlooked source of childhood obesity staring us in the face?

Eight Reasons Why TV is Evil

"What most surprised me were the results I got from my study, which found that the more kids are exposed to consumer culture, they likelier they are to become depressed, suffer from anxiety, or experience low self-esteem. I would have thought it was the other way around — that consumer culture was the symptom, not the cause."

TV Limiting Technology

List & Comparison of TV blockers

Token Timer

Power Cop

Play Limit

Power Plug Lock

Time Machine

Eye Timer

TV Be Gone

TV Be Gone - Article

Stanford Student Media Awareness to Reduce Television (SMART) curriculum is being used in California and Michigan. SMART in San Francisco, SMART in Canada