The Downsides of Binge-Watching Might Make You Think Again

With the establishment of popular streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime, and Disney+, many families don’t watch television during primetime. Instead, people binge-watch an entire season in a week, only to have to wait over a year for the next one. However, binge-watching limits provocative thinking and isn’t good for your mental health.

For starters, it causes time to become distant and trivial. Everyone’s the cliché: “If you watch too much TV, you’ll lose track of time, and then it’s the middle of the night.” Life is too short to allow time to elapse. Streaming services can be addicting, thus rendering self-control.

Binge-watching also makes it impossible to talk with friends and family about a shared program. Everyone is at different points of a show’s season. With cable or broadcast, this problem is almost non-existent. Here are other reasons why binge-watching sucks.

Binge-watching devalues a TV show. According to How-To Geek editorial advisor Cameron Summerson, “When a show comes on weekly, there are seven days in between episodes. During that time, people generally discuss the episode with friends and family, dissect everything that happened, and just generally think about it.” When people watch multiple episodes of the same show in a single sitting, they mix up the storylines. Specific episodes are forgotten faster, making it almost impossible for people to remember how the last season ended when a new one is put on a streaming service.

Lifehacker journalist Patrick Allan writes, “According to a study conducted by Jeff Galak, Ph.D., and published in the Journal of Consumer Research, the faster you consume media like TV shows, the less joy you actually get out of them. You become bored with the show and miss out on the subtle nuances that make it so great.”

People who binge-watch are prone to anxiety, depression, procrastination, loneliness, and sleep deprivation. The idea of one more episode will make them lose track of time and become lazy. 

Studies also show that lonely people, especially 18 to 29-year-olds, have a greater chance of not being able to put down the remote. Those who are depressed use binge-watching to move away from negative feelings. So in other words, lonely people tend to binge-watch, and binge-watchers are more likely to become lonely.

College students always complain that they don’t have enough money, even those who don’t have a job. The solution seems simple: work = money. Complicated courses and never-ending homework can strain adolescents, who take advantage of streaming-services and watching TV during their restricted free time.

According to recent research, the amount of time it takes to get through an entire series equals thousands of dollars that could have been made at work. Some of the TV shows calculated include Friends, Law and Order, The Simpsons, and Game of Thrones. Maybe one of the reasons why so many young people had their own money decades ago is because the accessibility of television was so different back then.

When asked how binge-watching affects the brain, Dr. Renee Carr, Psy.D, a clinical psychologist, stated, “When engaged in an activity that’s enjoyable such as binge-watching, your brain produces dopamine. The neuronal pathways that cause heroin and sex addictions are the same as an addiction to binge-watching. Your body does not discriminate against pleasure.”

 The solution to cutting your bad habit? Pace yourself, and ignore the tendency to watch another episode. It might be hard at first, but after a few hours or days, you will gain excitement for what is next to come.

So maybe the “old-fashion way” isn’t so bad after all?

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