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By Laura Grace Tarpley

In what ways can it be harmful to watch TV?

Watching television is one of America's favorite pastimes. With the inventions of Hulu Plus and Netflix, people can sit in their houses and watch their favorite programs to their hearts' desires. However, you should be careful about how much television you watch. Watching a couple hours per week does not significantly harm you, but what about six hours per day? Could that much time sitting on your couch do more harm than good?

There are definitely some drawbacks to turning on the tube. Here a few reasons you should cut back on your television time:

You sleep less

Sleep is critical to people's health. A solid night of sleep fights off sickness, improves productivity, improves focus and makes people happier overall. When you don't get enough sleep, you suffer both short-term and long-term consequences.

Television robs people of sleep in a couple different ways. First, when people are addicted to a show or try to finish a movie late at night, they stay awake longer to keep watching. Normally, they would go to bed at this time, but they push themselves to stay awake to continue watching television. They get to bed later but usually have to wake up at the same time the next morning.

Second, staring at the screen before bed makes it more difficult for people to fall asleep once they turn out the lights. If you want to fall asleep quickly, you should avoid watching television late at night. Instead, read a book or listen to soft music to help yourself wind down.

Television is bad for your health

It's no secret that people need to include physical activity in their routines to remain healthy. If you sit on your couch to binge-watch Netflix every day, you live a sedentary lifestyle. You are more likely to gain weight if you don't get up and move. Commercials also promote fast food restaurants and unhealthy foods, thus encouraging viewers to make even more unhealthy choices.

If you spend only 15 minutes per day engaging in physical activity, you could increase your lifespan by three years. Spending hours watching television could not only make you overweight, but this activity may shorten your life.

You are lonelier

People who spend hours every day watching television, or tinkering with electronics in general, are known to be lonelier than those who do not. Humans need social interaction to fight off feelings of loneliness and depression.

If you realize that watching television isolates you from others, try to make watching television a more social activity. Find one or two other people who enjoy the same programs as you and invite them over for snacks and television.

Watching television can be a fun use of time, but it definitely has its dangers. Picking up the remote every now and then may be harmless, but try not to let television take too prominent of a role in your life. If you cut television out of your daily routine, you will sleep more, be healthier and have more time for a social life.

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