More TV Time (Probably) Means Less Brain Power

Three hours of TV per day may not seem like a lot, but it could seriously affect your brain power down the road. 

Shutterstock

Hours in front of the TV today could impair kids' brains in the future. A study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco recently found a link between sedentary behavior and cognitive function over time. 

While the study isn't the first to investigate physical inactivity's impact on overall health, it is one of the first to look at the effects on brain power, specifically. The research team followed over 3,000 young adults for 25 years, tracking their TV watching habits and their "executive function and processing speed." 

The results suggest that sitting around watching TV all day isn't good for us—even if it's for only three hours per day. Sedentary TV-watchers were found twice as likely to demonstrate poor cognitive performance than their more active counterparts. 

Researchers say that they cannot directly blame TV time for numbing minds, but it is a possible factor. Lead study author Dr. Kristine Yaffe expanded on her uncertainty in the New York Times:

"We can't separate out what is going on with the TV watching. Is it just the inactivity, or is there something about watching TV that's the opposite of cognitive simulation?" 

Despite the questions the study doesn't answer, it raises crucial awareness about what we don't know about how TV can damage our brains. To be on the safe side, stick to an episode or two of your favorite show instead of a movie marathon, and break it up with as much physical activity as possible (Try these tips!). It probably wouldn't hurt to do Sudoku or read a challenging book every once in a while, either. 

For more on the effect screens have on brain power, check out this debate between two teens: Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?