Feature

Linking TV and sadness

Are people who watch a lot of TV more unhappy than people who don't?

“Here's some sobering news for couch potatoes,” said Joel Hood in the Chicago Tribune online. The results of a 30-year study of television viewing habits published in the December issue of the scientific journal Social Indicators Research “suggests that unhappy people watch considerably more TV” and “are generally less socially active than happier people.” But what’s “still unclear” is “whether watching TV is a symptom or a cause of unhappiness.”

“Another month, another study on how TV is bad for us,” said Bob Sassone in TV Squad. This new study is “bogus on so many levels.” First of all, how do you define “‘unhappy’ and ‘very happy?’” And “what about Internet use and video games—is that different viewing than television?” Next thing you know there will be a study showing “that people who use a microwave oven are more unhappy than people who use a stove.”

Actually, this study ended with some “obvious” conclusions, said Mark Morford in the San Francisco Chronicle, and in fact, it doesn’t “go nearly far enough.” There is “an entire universe of unhappy things that unhappy people also indulge in besides watching way too much TV, and perhaps those things are all interrelated.”

“People have been socialized through the media and studies like this,” said David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun online, and they tend “to feel they have to apologize for watching TV,” so it’s not surprising the researchers got the responses they did. And, judging by the “tens of millions” of Americans that got involved in this year's presidential election by watching on TV, sometimes people do get something out of all the hours they spend in front of the tube.

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