Netflix: Can binge watching ruin your brain?


Personally, I love Netflix. There’s a very high possibility that if I’m not doing work or in class, I’m watching Netflix. To me, there’s nothing like being able to binge watch my favorite shows in the comfort of my own home… or dorm. Since its release, Netflix has been a very integral part of my life. Reflecting on how much I watch Netflix made me realize that there is rarely a day that passes where I don’t watch an episode. Since I know that many people share this love for Netflix and may watch it as much as I do, I decided to investigate. It is my very love for Netflix that led me to question the effects that it could be having on my body, or specifically, my brain.


After researching for a conclusion, I came across an article that elucidated a longitudinal observational study done by scientists in which they examined people who tend to binge watch Netflix, or TV, and scarcely participate in exercise then tested their neurological abilities with standardized tests. Immediately after reading this I recognized a potential fault in the study; standardized tests and their accuracy as an interpretation of how smart someone is. Nevertheless, the researchers conducted the study over 25 years where they watched 3,247 people from the ages of 18 to 30 (see x). Every five years they would have the participants answer questions about how much TV they watched and how much physical activity they engaged in and at the end of the 25 years, they would be given 3 cognitive tests (see x). The results showed that those that binge watched TV and barely participated in physical activity were twice as likely to do bad on the exams. (x)

What I concluded from the study is that although it shows a correlation with their hypothesis, there is no causation as there can be third or confounding variables that may contribute to the participant’s failure to perform well on the exams. Thus, with no causation there is no mechanism to explain the connection. My conclusion was further confirmed upon my discovery of another article reflecting the effects of binge watching TV and brain function (see x). The information in this article was provided by a researcher from the Northern California Institute for Research. The researcher claimed that through her research she was able to conclude, just like the other study, that there is a correlation between exercise, binge watching TV, and brain function. Despite this, she agreed that there is no concrete evidence that it could really effect one’s brain. (x)


I was personally very happy with the results. While a rational person may consider not binge watching Netflix or TV as much since it may actually damage your brain, I am going to take advantage of the lack of causation by continuing to express my love for Netflix and TV through binge watching.


4 thoughts on “Netflix: Can binge watching ruin your brain?

  1. Katherine Guerney

    I find this post really cool because I also binge watch Netflix. I agree that there can be many third/confounding variables that would explain why the participants performed poorly in the tests. Also some people are naturally bad at standardized tests and have different definitions of “binge watching”. I can consider watching 5 episodes binge watching whereas another person could consider it to be 10 episodes. I think that if the researchers took a group of students that were all taking the same class and made everyone watch a certain amount of tv per day for a week and then gave them a test on what they learned at the end of the week would be interesting. Although it is a much shorter experiment I think it could show if watching a certain amount of tv could have a negative effect on the way you are able to process information.

  2. Casey Patrick Brennan

    I’m very glad binge watching does not effect a person’s cognitive abilities, as I am a frequent victim of binge watching. One question I would want to pose is if attention span plays into the equation. A lot of my friends with short attention spans still binge watch, sometimes more than others, so it would be very interesting to find out the mechanism for this phenomenon.

  3. Xander Roker

    It is interesting to me that performance on standardized was the way that they measured intelligence or change in intelligence, because this is not the proper way to do so. I think its great that you identified this as a correlation-causation problem, because this is not a wholistic way to identify ones intelligence. Very interesting read. What they need to identify a mechanism that shows how binge watching would affect the brain!

  4. Catherine Drinker

    When I saw this blog title I was honestly unsure if I wanted to read it because I love binge watching and if I heard that there was some horrible effect, I feared it would make Netflix less enjoyable for me. I’m glad I finished the post and learned that although there is a correlation between exercise, binge watching, and one’s brain function, there doesn’t seem to be any detrimental health problems.

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