Studies show Television Decreases IQ, Creativity, and Damages the Brain

Brain tv decreases IQ

“TV uses even less of your brain than is used to add single digit numbers.”
– Dr. Aric Sigman

Hidden from us by large corporations, exists overwhelming evidence of television’s ability to powerfully decrease and even damage brain function.  Don’t expect to see any of this information broadcast on your television screen, the last thing the corporation’s running the television networks want is for people to cut back on, or stop watching television altogether. 

TV Destroys Academic Achievement

There is an abundance of published research in the field of Television and it’s negative effects on academic achievement.  Let’s explore some of it now:

  • Reported in the Journal of Genetic Psychology was the finding that children’s television viewing ‘resulted in an eventual decrease in their academic achievement.’ (1) 
  • Then, in a 2005 study, other scientists confirmed ‘deleterious effects’ on mathematics ability, reading recognition and understanding later in childhood.  Not only does television viewing displace both playful and educational activities, Scientists suspect this harm is due to visual and auditory output actually damaging the child’s developing brain.  (2) 
  • Another study found that children ages eight and nine who have televisions in their bedrooms achieved the worst scores in school achievement tests. (3)
  • A brand new 26-year study which tracked kids from birth up until the age 26 has concluded ‘television viewing in childhood and adolescence is associated with poor educational achievement by 26 years of age, and may have long-lasting adverse consequences for educational achievement and subsequent socioeconomic status and well-being.’  The doctors found significant long-term damage occurred even at so-called ‘modest levels’ of television viewing: between one and two hours per day. (4)

TV Decreases IQ

  • For this we’re going to reach back to a 1980 study, which makes it no less relevant today, published in the Journal of Broadcasting.  This study included 625 students in the sixth through ninth grades attending a suburban-rural public school, where researchers compared high I.Q. students who were heavy TV watchers with equally bright students who watched little TV.  They found significantly higher scores on a reading comprehension test among the low TV viewers. (5)

TV Stifles Creativity and Ability to Succeed

  • In a remote Mountain Village located in British Columbia, which previously had no cable television, researchers had the unique opportunity to study the differences that occurred after television was introduced.  Researchers documented the changes that took place in the community and it was found that both adults and children became less creative in problem solving and were less able to succeed at tasks.

How does TV Damage our Brains?

Professor Herbert Krugman found that within 30 seconds of turning on the television, our brains become neurologically less able to make judgements about what we see and hear on the screen.  Surprised by how quickly the brain ‘shuts off’, he went on to say ‘Television is a communication medium that effortlessly transmits huge quantities of information not thought about at the time of exposure’, a statement that Dr. Aric Sigman says is “a long-winded way of saying that the medium of television brainwashes you”. (6)

Dr. Sigman goes on to say that “The changes in brain function and thought process brought about by the medium of the screen alone allows the content of television to have a far greater impact on the mind.”

What happens to the brain is the frontal lobe – our brain’s most sophisticated control system, responsible for organizing, planning and sequencing behaviour for self-control, moral judgement and attention – is completely subdued when watching television.  This is the same mechanism involved in hypnosis, and like hypnosis, TV reduces our ability to analyze critically what we are being told and what we see.  Not only does TV shut down frontal lobes while viewing, it leads to underdeveloped frontal lobes with long term use, and watching a lot of TV may damage them as well

Like Jack Nicholson’s frontal lobotomy he received in One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest, television is effectively performing electronic frontal lobotomies on those who view it.

As Dr. Aric Sigman relates in his book Remotely Controlled, Common effects of both TV viewing and Psychosurgery include:
– Reduction in Critical Thinking
– Less Motivation
– Less Creativity and Perseverance in Problem Solving
– Greater Separation of Thought from Emotion, making Human Behaviour more Conformist.

Additionally, TV viewing is associated with an increase in alpha brainwave activity, and a shift from left to right brainwave activity.  “As you watch television”, says Dr. Aric Sigman,” you are less conscious and less able to understand the reason you are being told or shown something.”  No wonder corporations are willing to pay millions of dollars for short advertisements on TV.

The frontal lobe of the brain plays an important role in maintaining self-control.  The frontal lobe is hard at work whenever you use self-control to refrain from doing something you shouldn’t.  When children and adults lash out and do things they shouldn’t, it is a sign that their frontal lobes are underdeveloped.  A study reported in The World Federation of Neurology expresses enormous concern over the way visual electronic media is affecting children by ‘…halting the process of frontal lobe development and affecting their ability to control potentially antisocial elements of their behaviour… the implications are very serious… children should also be encouraged to play outside with other children, interact and communicate with others as much as possible’.  “The more work done to thicken the fibres connecting the neurons in this part of the brain”, says Dr. Sigman, “the better the child’s ability will be to control their behaviour. (7)

Television “Safe” Exposure Guidelines:

Since the amount of Television you watch is directly proportional to how happy you are in life, the less you watch the better.  However, at we realize that eliminating the Television completely from your life may or may not be realistic, and since the governments of the world are not responsible enough to create safe-exposure guidelines for watching television, we’re going to give you the guidelines brought forth from Harvard Researchers and others based on the existing science.  Here is the Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) for watching television:

  • Children under three should see no screen entertainment.
  • After this age, television viewing of good quality programmes should be limited to an hour a day.
  • Teenagers should be limited to one-and-a-half hours a day.
  • And for adults, two hours a day.

“Getting rid of your television should not be considered extreme.  You are immediately doubling the amount of free time you have and, after a short period of time, you are very unlikely to miss it.”
– Dr. Aric Sigman


1 – Shin, N. ‘Exploring pathways from television viewing to academic achievement in school age children’, J. Genetic Psychology, December 2004; 165 (4) 267-81

2 – Zimmerman F.J., Christakis D.A. ‘Children’s television viewing and cognitive outcomes: a longitudinal analysis’, Archives of Pediatric Medicine, 2005; 159:619-625

3 – Borzekowski D.L.G., Robinson T.N. ‘ The remote, the mouse, and the no. 2 pencil: the household media environment and academic achievement among third grade students’,  Archives of Pediatric Medicine, 2005; 159:607-613

4 – Hancox R.J. et al. ‘Association of television viewing during childhood with poor educational achievement’, Archives of Pediatric Medicine, 2005; 159: 614-618

5 – M. Morgan and L. Gross, “Television Viewing, I.Q. and Academic Achievement,” Journal of Broadcasting, 24:2, Spring, 1980.

6 – Krugman, Herbert E. ‘Brain Wave Measures of Media Involvement’, Journal of Advertising Research, 1971; 11.1, 3-9

7 – Kawashima, R. Et al.  Reported in World Neurology, September 2001, 16 (3) 3

Resources Used:
1 – Remotely Controlled by Dr. Aric Sigman
2 – The Plug-in Drug by Marie Winn