TV can be a health hazard

Date: Nov 03 2015

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TV binge-watching connected to negative health effects

Chicago — “Binge-watching” is significantly associated with TV addiction and other negative mental health effects, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Researchers from the University of Toledo conducted an online survey of more than 400 North American adults, ages 18 years and older, to find out their perceptions and beliefs about TV viewing. They also looked at the impact of the individuals’ screen time on several mental health indicators such as depression, anxiety and sleep.

“With the availability of newer technology and instant video streaming services, binging on TV is a new cultural phenomenon that is popular with a huge majority of people,” said study author Monita Karmakar, MS, PhD student, of University of Toledo’s Department of Health and Recreation Professions. “While emerging studies have shown some of the negative health effects of this trend, never before has this phenomenon been studied using a large population. The culture of binge-watching is so huge and heavily advertised in popular media; this is a very pertinent time for a study like this.”

Overall, researchers found that 77 percent of all participants reported watching TV for two or more consecutive hours on average per day. When asked if they would classify their TV viewing habits as binging, 35 percent of all participants identified as binge-watchers, meaning they spent significantly more than two consecutive hours watching TV per day. The self-identified binge-watchers reported higher addiction to TV than those who did not identify as binge-watchers. They also reported experiencing some negative mental health effects, including higher levels of depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

 “Unaware of the negative health effects of longer screen time, the general public is being unwittingly exposed to advertisements that encourage this behavior,” Karmakar said. “A study of this nature will create awareness about the issue and help individuals make better and more informed decisions regarding their health.”

APHA’s 143rd Annual Meeting is themed “Health in All Policies” and will focus on how public health agencies and organizations can work with those who are best positioned to create policies and practices that promote healthy communities and environments.

Session 4067.0: Prevention and Intervention Strategies Across Health Disciplines

Date: Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Researchers: Monita Karmakar, MS , PhD student, University of Toledo, Department of Health and Recreation Professions, Toledo, Ohio

Jessica Sloan Kruger, MSHE, University of Toledo, Department of Health and Recreation Professions, Toledo, Ohio

Jon Elhai, PhD, University of Toledo, Department of Psychology, Toledo, Ohio

Alaina Kramer, BS, CHES, University of Toledo, Toledo, Ohio

Information for media: The APHA Annual Meeting Press Office will be located in W475B of the McCormick Place convention center.

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