A recent Scientific American article offers up some insight regarding that modern-day question of the ages: Does TV ruin your eyesight? I know until I hit my mid-teens, my mother was always yelling at me and my brother to “sit back from the TV!” while we played the shit out of Metroid. No doubt her logic was motivated to some degree by the likes of this:
…back in the 1960s General Electric sold some new-fangled color TV sets that emitted excessive amounts of radiation—as much as 100,000 times more than federal health officials considered safe. GE quickly recalled and repaired the faulty TVs, but the stigma lingers to this day.
Nice to know, even though those old-school CRT televisions and computer monitors used to drive me nuts with their refresh rate / flicker. I had to limit my exposure to a few hours a day or else I got headaches. LCDs have removed this problem, but have, of course, opened the door to another: extended comfort while remaining completely sedentary during tantric coding sessions. Before LCDs I had to get up and walk around, do other things out of necessity; now it’s just a prudent suggestion if I want to keep the ol’ muscles from atrophying.
I do agree with the part of the article that mentions TV as not causing nearsightedness, but rather drawing attention to a person’s pre-existing vision problems. That’s how it worked for me. I started losing my 20/20 at an early age, but it wasn’t until I started playing video games habitually that I realized I couldn’t see Mario or Simon Belmont on the TV screen unless I was pressing my nose against the glass.
That’s still no excuse for inactivity. The basic theme here is moderation. It’s been said that the longest-lived residents of the world (the healthy ones, that is) practice lifestyles that involve frequent, low-impact activities distributed throughout each day—as opposed to the typical Western norm of lengthy office chair vigils broken only by occasional trips to the gym. As annoyingly cliche as the saying is, “use it or lose it” just about sums it up. But, then, our parents already knew that long ago, back when they used to tell us to put down our effing gamepads and play outside for a while.