(Ah, there is that old causation vs correlation thing again!)
"While many of us use the internet to pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities."
These 'internet addicts' spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities. They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than non-addicted users.
"Our research indicates that excessive internet use is associated with depression, but what we don't know is which comes first -- are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?
The abstract is here if you are interested. Anyway, it got me thinking. About television and more broadly internet use and how it fits into a healthy life.
At one level there is a basic problem that these activities rob you of sleep. Sleep is ludicrously good for you and adequate sleep in the dark is essential to health. So often, time spent watching TV or browsing the net is time when often you would be better off asleep.
But there is more. Much of the argument of this blog is that health means doing that for which you were built....moving and eating as you were meant to. The sedentary, civilized life is not how were were designed to live. Evolutionary Fitness, Paleo diet, the Primal Blueprint (Mark Sisson's Primal Blueprint includes "Get Lots of Sleep") or whatever, the argument is the same. We live in ways which are incompatible with what we were designed for......and there are consequences.
Aside from the consequences for sleep, the sort of entertainment and stimulation provided by TV and the internet is not what we were desigend for either.
Reading soemthing by Keith Thomas of evfit made me think about this recently. He refuses to watch TV for reasons he explains here, where he reviews a book by Aric Sigman called Remotely Controlled.
Intrigued, I bought the book
Aric goes through a series of studies that demonstrate that watching a lot of TV is associated with:
- A slowing of the metabolic rate
- Slowed development in childrens' brains
- increased risk of ADHD
- an increase in violent crime
- lowered libido
- increased obesity
Sigman is taking evidence from brain research, biology, archeology and neurology.
Essentially his argument is that
a) Television works very much like hypnosis and essentially produces a reduction of our frontal lobs responsible for critical thinking,
b) that it is particularly dangerous for children under three. Their brain is still forming and requires an environment that makes the children move, speak and think. Television is not doing any of this.
c) furthermore it produces a "pseudo social group" and false social reference patterns. This not only destroys a lot of local culture but causes bolemy with girls, men and women who have a false sense of their bodies. Females going splashing out on clothes, men just thinking of model type bodies.
It is really interesting stuff.
There is a further argument in book that is really interesting. The book proposes maximum levels of exposure to TV.....but it also proposes minimum levels of exposure to nature, to greenery, to the natural world.
While TV viewing has a whole raft of nevetive effects, the science indicates that exposure to nature, green spaces, the outdoors, has a similar raft of benefits. And so it should - it is what were were meant to do. We were meant to live in nature. That is why I love being in the mountains.
Here are a couple of the studies he refers to:
The restorative benefits of nature: Toward an integrative framework - television tires out our attention, while nature gives us rest - it holds our attention but also allows us to reflect on other things.
At Home with Nature - children who move home to areas with more greenery show improved memory, recognition and general thinking skills.
Urban residential environments and senior citizens’ longevity in megacity areas: the importance of walkable green spaces - people that live in cities are healthier and live longer when they are exposed to greenery.
Conclusions: Living in areas with walkable green spaces positively influenced the longevity of urban senior citizens independent of their age, sex, marital status, baseline functional status, and socioeconomic status. Greenery filled public areas that are nearby and easy to walk in should be further emphasised in urban planning for the development and re-development of densely populated areas in a megacity. Close collaboration should be undertaken among the health, construction, civil engineering, planning, and other concerned sectors in the context of the healthy urban policy, so as to promote the health of senior citizens.
So....turn off the TV, log off, and get outside.