You are what you watch? The social effects of TV

There’s new evidence that viewing habits can affect your thinking, political preferences, even cognitive ability

By Jonathan Rothwell | The New York Times

Other than sleeping and working, Americans are more likely to watch television than engage in any other activity.

A wave of new social science research shows that the quality of shows can influence us in important ways, shaping our thinking and political preferences, even affecting our cognitive ability.

In this so-called golden age of television, some critics have pointed out that the best of the form is equivalent to the most enriching novels. And high-quality programming for children can be educational. But the latest evidence also suggests there can be negative consequences to our abundant watching, particularly when the shows are mostly entertainment.

The harm seems to come not so much from the content itself but from the fact that it replaces more enlightening ways of spending time.

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