Reasons why Binge-watching is bad for you

Everyone’s doing it. We do it on the couch, in bed, sometimes on our mate’s house, 18 to 29-year-olds are most likely to do it every day. Whilst the older generation usually partakes less than once a month. We do it way past our bedtime and in some cases all night. I know I have, I’m of course talking about binge-watching. What were you thinking?

Although binge-watching has technically been a thing since DVD box sets. the term didn’t properly catch on an end to vernacular speech until 2013 when Netflix had the genius idea of releasing every episode of a brand new series all at once. No longer did we have to star eat our watches for a long grueling week waiting for the next installment of our favorite TV show to where it was all land pensively awaiting our impatient highs anytime we wanted.

And what did we humans do with this newfound privilege? We do what we always do of course abused it. Why wait a week, a day, even an hour when you could watch one episode straight after the other in quick succession. Before you know it your alarm is due to go off in three hours’ time but you’re still considering just one more episode.

The next morning you feel terrible but, let’s be honest you’re probably going to do the same thing again that very night. As you stare at your sunken dark eyes in the mirror you try to reason with yourself. Sure you’ve lost a bit of sleep but it’s not that bad for you. Right? well, I hate to break it to you but watching that next episode might just be the death of you and no I’m not being dramatic.

Binge-watching shortens your life

A study carried out by researchers at Osaka University in Japan discovered the correlation between how long you spend sitting in front of the TV every day and how likely you are to die of a pulmonary embolism. They found that people who regularly watched more than five hours of TV a day had a mortality rate two-and-a-halftimes higher than those who watched just two and a half hours per day. Less Netflix and chill’ more net and kill but it doesn’t stop there. According to the Nurses Health Study for every two hours, women spend watching television each day they have a 23% higher risk of becoming obese and a 14% greater chance of developing diabetes and for those of you who have just left out of your seats, you may want to sit back down for the next one.

Researchers from the University of Queensland Australia constructed a model in which they compared life expectancy for adults who watch TV compared to those who didn’t and the results were shocking. They found that for every hour you spend glued to the screen you shorten your life by 21.8 minutes to put that into context if you spend six hours every night binge-watching the latest series you can expect to live 4.8 years less than someone who doesn’t watch TV.

Keep a watch on what you Binge-watch?

But your life may not depend on just how you watch but what you watch, who, and what we interact with on a daily basis, drastically shapes who we are as a person. From our parents, our friends, our daily activities interactions habits, to the food we put in our mouths, all these aspects of our lives make up who we are for better or worse and that also applies to the screens we stare at for most of the day.

The media which fills our minds could influence and define us in ways we never thought possible. In this modern world, you are what you watch. Researchers in the 1970s conducted an experiment to try and address the effects of television and the programs we choose to give our attention to. They randomly assigned to groups of low-income children aged 3 to 5 in the first group.

The control group children kept their TV viewing habits the same and were allowed to watch what they wanted. In the second group, the experimental group the children were given access to if they already liked Sesame Street and the parents were to encourage their children to watch the show once a month. And the results over a period of just six months the group of children who were given access to and encouraged to watch Sesame Street gained 5.4 IQ points compared with the control group. Those who watch show the most experienced larger gains in cognitive performance.

TV doesn’t rot your brain but for every year there is a young and although watching one kind of TV program can improve our lives watching another could prove devastating especially for some. 

Binge-watching Vs mental health

In March 2017 Netflix released the first series of 13 reasons why around the world. Mental health services and charities raised concern over the graphic nature of the series who’s from saying it was glamorizing suicide which could potentially lead to the tragic phenomenon known as suicide contagion. 13 reasons why which tells a tale of a teenage girl who takes her own life was in marketing terms a big hit.

Netflix is notoriously shy at revealing their viewership figures but the marketing analytic firm jump shots determined that it was the second most-viewed Netflix season in the first 30 days after it premiered. Its controversial subject matter played a major role in its success with an increase of 18% in viewership from week one to week two.

The fears of mental health advocates around the world became all too real when it was revealed that the release of 13 reasons why coincided with between 900,000 and 1.5 million more suicide-related Google searches in the USA. There was also a chilling 26% increase for the search on how to commit suicide.

There were more tweets about this show in its first week of being released than any other Netflix show and during its surge in popularity during the months of April and May 2017.

Stephen stack at Wayne State University analyzed data which showed that during that time the suicide rate for boys aged between 10 and 19 in the u.s. increased by 12.4 percent and for girls, there was a jump of 21.7% when compared with previous months.

But wait, I enjoy binge-watching. I find it relaxing. first of all, I know you enjoy it. a 2013 Harris Interactive survey conducted on behalf of Netflix found that 73% of streamers have positive feelings towards binge-watching but relaxing I’m not so sure you may feel like you’re distressing.

But in a study conducted by the University of Toledo where they analyze people’s television viewing habits, they found that respondents who identified as binge Watchers reported higher levels of stress anxiety, and depression than regular TV viewers.

So what’s happening? Why are we enjoying something so much which is affecting our mental health? You wouldn’t like to be bullied. It’s a binned worthy rate so why are you so willing and in fact, yearning to participate in something which is so mentally harmful? The answer might reside in the reason why we receive so much enjoyment.

In the first place let me ask you a question during your last binge session whether it be breaking bad, The office or Tiger King did you have thought running through your mind, Just one more then I’ll stop.

Binge-watching addiction

I only do it on the weekends. I need it to relax. everyone else does it. If you have then you might be disturbed to know that these are the very same thoughts of an addict. yes, you heard me right you don’t need needles, poker chips, or alcohol to become an addict. all you need is a Netflix password and a decent Wi-Fi connection. so what do Disney Plus and heroin have in common? Dopamine. 

In simple terms, dopamine is a chemical released by the brain when you have a positive reaction to something. that feeling after buying yourself something new is dopamine. That frilled finding money on the pavement that’s dopamine.

Your brain likes to take note of what triggered these tasty little dopamine hits and compels you to seek out that same pleasure again. this urge can be powerful and hard to control so when you’re enjoying the latest new series your brain can’t get enough of this potent chemical and it knows what it has to do to get more of it. Make you watch just one more episode. Think it’s not a big deal, think again. 

Since 2019 people have been seeking professional health experts to combat their binge-watching addictions. The patient’s admitted to not being able to stop watching their favorite shows on streaming platforms. Unable to control themselves from watching more and more.

Adam Cox a psychotherapist who has treated these addicts says a TV cliffhanger is a reward mechanism like drink or drugs. it releases dopamine and that can be an issue for people. You have overstresses or anxieties. In their life, it causes a lack of sleep, which sends productivity through the floor and stops people from forming proper relationships. But surely we the moderate binge Watchers of this world are not letting it affect our sleep that much.

Binge-watching Vs Sleep

According to a survey published by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, US adults ranked sleep as a top priority second only to family. Well, apparently there’s a caveat to that 88% of US adults have admitted that they had lost sleep due to staying up late to binge-watch. This percentage jumped to 95 percent when looking at 18 to 44-year-olds. 

It almost seems as if streaming platforms are trying to make us lose sleep on purpose. and that theory might not be too far-fetched, especially when the CEO of Netflix Reed Hastings has publicly stated that sleep is their competition. so all of this sounds pretty depressing and even though you know it’s bad for you you’re probably not going to stop considering that binge-watching is a generally isolating activity. 

If we don’t spend our nights staring at our dreamed reflections on our laptop screens as the credits roll, what are we going to talk about with our friends, our work colleagues, our families, strangers in the port the next day? watching the latest new thing is our way of participating in the public conversation.

Not doing so could risk a serious case of FOMO. it might explain why. in a poll conducted by Radio Times comm, 42% of people surveyed admitted to pretending they had seen a program when they really haven’t. we’re all guilty of it. so what can we do to carry on watching our favorite shows and not risk a possible disastrous outcome. well you’ll be pleased to hear that although not perfect, there are some things you can do to help combat the negative consequences of binge-watching. some may even improve your viewing experience.

The first thing is to be mindful of what you can say both in your mouth and on the screen. a study at the University of Houston surveyed undergraduate students on their viewing and eating habits and made the unsurprising discovery that the more people watched television the more they partook in unhealthy eating. it’s also worth noting that according to a study conducted by Cornell University what genre you choose to watch affects how much you eat.

Comparing those who watched action movies and talk shows viewers, who watched the action-filled content ate twice as much.

A similar outcome was observed when analyzing those who watched sub films versus those who chose upbeat movies like romantic comedies. the participants who watched the tear-jerkers ate 55 percent more. I also feel the need to comfort eat after being subjected to two grueling hours of Ryan Gosling not shooting anyone. 

Healthy habits while binge-watching

Swapping snacks for a healthier alternative while settling in for a TV marathon could make a huge difference. not only to your waistline but to how long you live. drop the popcorn, your life depends on it, and just like those kids watching Sesame Street YouTube should be mindful of what you’re subjecting your mind to watching something educational such as a documentary, interviews of inspiring and successful people, or people telling you interesting facts is a much better use of your time than a mind-numbing sitcom.

Dividing your binge-watching into chunks could help prevent some of the negative consequences that come from sitting on your ass for hours. In the end, since most shows are either 22 or 44 minutes long remembering to take a break after every episode could be a great approach. This is according to Dr. Bonnie rocket Wagner an expert on sedentary behavior and diabetes prevention.

She recommends stepping away from the screen undoing anything, do some push-ups, go for a short walk, do some stretches, doing something is better than doing nothing.

Another shocking remedy to this binge-watching crisis might just be to not binge watch at all. If you love TV shows and I mean really love them watching them back-to-back is doing yourself a disservice. 

Binge-watching kills curiosity

I like to compare it to Christmas. Christmas Day December 25th. It’s like a binge-watching marathon. It’s exciting filled with new things and self-indulgence but it’s also intensely filled with too much food. You feel worse at the end of it than you did at the beginning. And it goes by way too quickly and before you know it it’s over and January begins.

But when you think of Christmas it’s not usually the day itself that fills you with that warm fuzzy feeling you cherish so much. It’s to lead-up, it’s drinking mulled wine by the fireplace, wrapping presents, watching home alone for the hundredth time, and decorating the Christmas tree.

Watching an entire series in one night is like having Christmas without the anticipation. Leaving a day, a week perhaps in between episodes gives you the time to fully appreciate all the little things. You might otherwise miss that precious time away from the screen in between episodes filled with excitement, curiosity, various discussion. Anticipation gives you time to fully absorb the characters, the plot, the twists, and the turns, which you crave so much. Why deprive yourself of that? 

It’s the journey, not the destination.

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