Is Binge-Watching for the Sad and Lonely?

Is Binge-Watching for the Sad and Lonely?

Study suggests that watching TV shows for a long time can impact our health.

Published February 1, 2015

The next time you decide to do something as harmless as watch an entire season of Orange Is the New Black or Being Mary Jane in one sitting on Netflix, be warned, you may be doing it because you are sad.

A new study suggests that binge-watching — the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show — may be a sign of loneliness, depression and a precursor of obesity.

Researchers from the University of Texas-Austin conducted a survey of more than 300 young adults who were 18 and 19 years old. Researchers asked them how often they felt lonely and depressed and how often they binge-watched. Interesting enough, they found that the more people binge-watched the more likely they were to be sad and depressed, using this long session of television watching to help ease those negative feelings.

They study also suggests that binge-watching is also linked to lack of self-control, Science of Us reported.

“Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," said Yoon-Hi Sun, one of the author’s lead authors.

The study also stressed that binge-watching impacts our physical and mental health. Sun added: 

"Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously. Our research is a step toward exploring binge-watching as an important media and social phenomenon."

It should be noted that this is the first study that looks at the connection between mental health and binge-watching consumption which is quite surprising given how popular binge-watching has gotten since the rise of Hulu, Netlflix and Amazon Prime. According to a 2014 study, 73 percent of Netflix subscribers admitted to watching two to six episodes of a show in one sitting.

Does this mean you shouldn't enjoy Hulu on your next snow day?

Not at all. Television should be about enjoyment and entertainment. But there is something very valid about our need to mask what’s going on in our lives with outside factors — and binge-watching Law and Order SVU may be that thing.

The key is balance. Make sure that your need to watch Netflix isn’t stopping you from paying attention to more important factors in your life.

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(Photo: DreamPictures/Blend Images/Corbis)

Written by Kellee Terrell


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