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Many South Africans are finding themselves working from home at the moment in an effort to flatten the curve. This means spending hours on laptop screens and probably working harder than you would a normal workday in the office.

It is important to take a break from consuming a barrage of news that could leave you feeling anxious and depressed or to step away from the laptop screen to indulge in a little bit of escapism by watching your favourite TV series or documentary. Although television content can offer the distraction that you seek and can provide hours of endless entertainment, it is also as important to moderate screen time and to ensure that you are watching TV mindfully and responsibly over this period.

In South Africa, data from Multichoice shows that the average time people spent watching TV in March was two hours and 16 minutes. Adults between the ages of 15 to 24 watched between two hours and 1 minute; those between 25 – 49 watched for two hours and 16 minutes; adults aged 50 to 64 between two hours and 27 minutes; and people over the age of 65 watched TV for two hours and 30 minutes per day.

To find the balance between escapism and over-indulgence, keep the following in mind when taking a break from the realities of lockdown whilst putting your feet up to enjoy your beloved TV shows.

Be present

When watching television try to be fully present to what you are watching, as opposed to half-heartedly talking to a loved one or browsing through your phone. Trying to do too many things at once robs you of joy and decreases your effectiveness.

Make it fun and healthy

Try to eat healthy snacks while you’re indulging in that favourite TV show. Rather snack on biltong or nuts which might be gone by the end of the show, just like a bag of potato chips would, without your even realising it but the difference is you will have filled up on something healthier.

Bonding with your loved ones
Watching that TV series with a partner or family member might actually make you feel closer to them and lead to a happier relationship. It provides for an opportunity to bond while watching something both parties can relate to and possibly share anecdotes with at the dinner table. Something light-hearted and fun might be your genre of choice – the simple act of experiencing happiness and laughter with your loved ones while watching can be positive; humans sharing endorphin-inducing experiences creates a bond.

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 Responsible screen-time for kids

Screen time can be a valuable learning experience when watching with your children. Parents can encourage kids to actively engage with the content they’re seeing on screens, during the experience or afterwards. The more an adult can encourage conversation around the TV experience the deeper the experience becomes – make it an active process by commenting on things you’re watching together or even asking questions. This becomes less about what’s on the TV screen and becomes more of an interactive, social experience between you and your child.

You are what you watch

Research has shown that the type of content you watch, and the quality of shows can shape our thinking and even affect our cognitive ability. Some shows provide relaxation and entertainment while other programmes and documentaries can be inspiring and educational. What you watch can even have an effect on your mood, temper, and your general compassion towards others – so before you dive into your next show think about how it may affect your mind health.

Research from Discovery Inc indicate that these were the top performing or most watched shows on their owned channels over the last three weeks – Extreme Couponing (Real Time), The Carbonaro Effect (Discovery Family), Mountain Monsters (Travel Channel), the Bad Blood documentary (ID), Flip or Flop (HGTV), Spring Baking Championship (Food Network), Street Outlaws (Discovery Channel) with My Feet Are Killing Me (TLC) coming in as the favourite.

Discovery Inc delivers over 8,000 hours of original and entertaining content to viewers each year. In South Africa, Discovery’s portfolio of premium brands includes Discovery Channel, HGTV, Food Network, TLC, Investigation Discovery, Travel Channel, Discovery Family and Real Time.