During the winter break we often find ourselves with a few spare hours to “Tune In” to some of our favorite moving pictures. We watch with family or friends. We will watch alone to experience the nostalgia of seasons past. Here are some media psychology navigational hints to help you improve your experience and mental health.
- Choose stories which give you sensations of inspiration, motivation, hope, strength, life experience, excitement, wonder, imagination, or love. Broaden-and-Build Theory suggests positive emotional experiences grow like seeds when nurtured and improve your thoughts, emotions, social reactions, and ability to mentally cope with life.
- Watch all the electronic media you want . . . in a healthy dose. Too much viewing changes the physical structure of the brain in sometimes unhelpful ways. The brain releases the “happy chemical” dopamine when you watch exciting electronic images. Too much Dopamine hurts your limbic system which you need to regulate emotion and process your memories. Too much viewing also leads to decreased white matter in regions of the brain regulating impulse control, unacceptable social behavior, empathy, attention, and decision making. Less white matter means your brain processes these tasks more slowly. The brain will rewire itself over time with too much viewing. This leads you to crave more electronics making it harder to say no to screen time.
- Enjoy your chosen experience . . . One more thing too much screen time hurts is your ability to change to your environment. This ability is called Response Inhibition. Response Inhibition refers to your ability to resist unhelpful behaviors in a situation when you want to choose helpful behaviors.
Enjoy your viewing experience this winter! There are lots of amazing stories this season for you to Tune In.