It makes us fat, not only because sitting on the sofa means not taking exercise - it slows metabolism while increasing appetite - either comfort eating during stressful episodes or imitative eating of (ultra thin) actresses enjoying chocolate. We are now Europe's fattest country.
It causes depression by making us feel inferior to stereotypes, making us feel helpless in the face of distressing news reports and by inactivity. Though it appears relaxing the effect stops when the programme ends so we watch more and eventually lose sleep - getting more obese in the process (due to interference with natural sleep hormones). A recent report in the British Journal of Psychiatry found we are the most depressed people in Europe.
Families watching television - often in separate rooms - are not interacting or eating a meal together. Young people take role models from dramas; British reticence is disappearing - the death of famous people gives rise to ‘recreational grief’. At the same time we don’t know our neighbours and can walk past those who need help on our streets.
The UK has the highest divorce rate in Europe On screen we see selfishness encouraged by parents asserting their 'right to a life of their own' even if it means the substitution of a step parent. The cost to children is played down.
The UK has the highest rate of underage pregnancy in Western Europe and a quarter of sexually active 13-year-olds have had four or more sexual partners.
These findings - and many other studies linking violence on TV with a rise in violent crime - are not promoted on TV or in newspapers often owned by TV companies.
Despite these many reasons for not particularly wanting a set the TV Licensing Board refuse to believe we can do without one. They've sent a stream of threatening letters and an investigator who banged on the door at dusk to 'prove we do not have one on the premises'. We sent him away but got another letter saying he'll be back. Now you know where the licence fee goes.