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Does Pausing a TV Damage It? 

If you unpause your TV after it’s gone idle for extended periods, you’ll likely notice a faint ghost-like image of whatever was showing at the time. Though the afterimage disappears after a few seconds, one can’t help but wonder: does pausing a TV damage it? 

In the past, pausing the TV for hours at a time can leave a permanent “burn” mark on the screen. Though this issue isn’t as common now as it was back then, TV screens still aren’t completely immune to burn-in. Burn-in can ruin a perfectly good display, so measures must be taken to prevent it

This article discusses everything you need to know about screen burn-in, including how to prevent and fix it. Let’s dive right in! 

Does Pausing a TV Damage It? 

When CRTs and plasma screens dominated the industry, pausing a TV for extended periods of time was considered taboo. This is because if you leave a TV paused on a static image for too long, the image would permanently be “burned” into the screen. This phenomenon is called screen burn-in or image retention

Burn-in happens when you leave the TV on a stationary image, like if you leave a video on pause for too long. It also happens when you leave a game on or when the channel you’re watching is displaying a fixed logo. When you go back and continue watching or playing the game on TV, you’ll notice a ghost-like image of whatever was showing at the time. 

On CRTs, plasma screens, and older LCDs, burn-in is extremely common. In fact, most TVs made in the 90s had some sort of burn-in.

But nowadays, burn-in isn’t really that big of a concern anymore. While it can certainly still happen with modern LCDs and OLED displays, it’s extremely rare

Modern TVs have built-in methods to reduce the risk of burn-in, like automatically playing a moving screensaver after a certain amount of time or moving pixels onscreen after detecting a static image. 

How to Prevent Screen Burn-In 

Although not as common as it was back in the day, LCD TVs aren’t completely immune to burn-in. To prevent burn-in on your TV, follow these tips: 

Change the Channel Periodically 

If you regularly watch the news or sports, the ticker at the bottom of the screen may cause burn-in without your knowledge. Avoid this by switching the channel at least once every two hours to give those pixels a rest

Enable Pixel Shift

Pixel shift prevents burn-in by shifting the image on the TV screen after a certain period of time. Though usually on by default, it doesn’t hurt to double-check to ensure the function is active. 

Adjust the Picture Size 

If you’re watching a movie with black borders at the top and bottom of the screen, change the picture size for about a minute or two during commercials or between shows. Do this at least once every two hours to decrease the chance of burn-in. 

Don’t Leave the TV Paused 

Whether you’re watching TV or playing games, try not to leave the screen paused for longer than two hours at a time. If you’re not going to use your TV during this period, best turn it off and return at a later time instead of keeping the movie/game paused. 

Turn On the Screen Saver 

Screen savers aren’t there just for show. Believe it or not, they’re actually invented to prevent burn-in, especially on older TVs and computer screens. This is why they’re called screen “savers”!

By default, the TV screensaver would kick in after a period of user inactivity. This could be after an hour, two hours, or five hours. So if you find yourself frequently pausing your TV, reduce the screensaver time to one hour of inactivity. 

If you’re not too big on screensavers, you can instead use the sleep timer. When activated, the sleep timer would automatically switch off the TV for a given period of time. 

How to Fix Burn-In 

In the past, burn-in was permanent. The only way you could’ve fixed it was to change the screen’s internal components. Now, burn-in is mostly temporary. Here are some ways to fix burn-in: 

  • Lower the brightness of your TV below 50 for a few minutes to remove the discoloration caused by burn-in. 
  • Play a pixel-fixing video on YouTube for several minutes. The video flashes thousands of colors over a short period of time, which can help fix stuck pixels. Be warned, though: these videos can induce seizures for some people due to rapidly flashing images.
  • Run a manual pixel refresh on your TV to clean out stuck pixels. You can find this option with the pixel-shift settings. 

Conclusion 

Burn-in isn’t as big of an issue as it was in the past with CRTs and plasma screens, but it still happens even with modern LCDs. As such, you should always take the appropriate measures when pausing the TV. Never leave the TV paused for longer than two hours, and make sure to switch the channels once every hour to prevent burn-in.