Does the thought of missing your favorite television series stress you out? Would you be bummed if your cable service went down for a day? Do you sometimes think you spend too much time watching TV? Well, you're not alone. As many as 12.5 percent of people say they're addicted to television, while up to 70 percent surveyed thought that others were addicted [source: Kubey].
Some types of addictions develop as a sort of self-medication. In other words, they're used as a way of dealing with negativity or to numb emotions such as sadness, loneliness or stress. Sometimes they just make you feel relaxed or help you to tune-out for a while. One example of this effect is television. Studies show that people feel more relaxed and at ease while watching television -- they're less alert and their brain waves are less active [source: Kubey and Csikszentmihalyi]. And that's what most people want after a long day at work, right?
The problem is that relying on something like television to take away stress can become addictive behavior. And like addictive drugs, the longer you do it, the less of a reward you get from it. That's why, for instance, the fifth hour of TV viewing is less satisfying than the first.
What's more, when you're relaxed, you're less likely to stop doing what you're doing -- in other words, relaxing in front of the TV makes you less likely to want to turn the TV off and go do something else.