We are all familiar with Netflix, and for the most part it is considered a handy tool for killing time or hosting movie nights with friends. By making the process of obtaining and viewing movies and TV shows more accessible, it is easy to abuse this powerful piece of technology. “Binge-watching”, or the process of watching numerous TV shows back to back in a single sitting, is a prominent phenomenon in today’s society. Bingeing may have its time and place, but the constant use of Netflix could have some potentially negative effects.
One of the biggest questions asked when evaluating the effect of Netflix on individuals is how it influences mental health, specifically anxiety and depression. There have not been many intensive studies into the health effects of binging Netflix as it is still a relatively new invention. Many people have reported, though, that the process of watching an inordinate amount of Netflix can be draining and can cause feelings of sadness and depression once a TV show ends (The Guardian). There is a feeling of attachment that comes with watching a show constantly, and individual’s moods are affected when there are changes in the show, or the show ends. But this depression can extend beyond the fleeting feelings associated with the end of a show. Those who watch a large amount of television, or in this case Netflix, have a higher rate of loneliness that comes with the isolation that occurs from prolonged TV watching. This loneliness can trigger depression, which already affects a large amount of the United States population.
Besides the assumed effect on mental health, there are other health risks posed by binge watching Netflix. This has less to do with the act of watching TV, but more so on the health issues associated with sedentary tendencies. According Reader’s Digest, by sitting for a prolonged amount of time, an individual is at a greater risk for issues like obesity, heart attack and diabetes later in life. These issues are very prominent in the United State as it is. Many people who binge are unaware of the long term effects as they only focus on the initial gratification that comes with enjoying a couple episodes of your favorite show.
The binging of TV has been around as long as the invention of television, but by adding the digital age into the equation, Netflix makes it easier to feed this addiction. Addiction is a common topic of discussion on college campuses, but people mainly consider drugs and alcohol as objects of discussion. Binge-watching Netflix might be just as detrimental to a college career, though. Not only could students begin to prioritize their leisure activities, such as Netflix, over their academic studies, the act of watching Netflix late into the night greatly cuts down on the hours of sleep that students receive (Network 58). Young adults should ideally average around 9 hours of sleep per night. This is already limited by everyday obligations such as school, work, and a social life. Through the addition of a fourth variable, one that takes a significant amount of time away from other activities, the schedule of the student is stretched too thin. There are many students who, when choosing which activities to cut back on, even prioritize their binging tendencies.
I love Netflix. In fact, it is one of my top recommended websites. But regardless, the act of binge-watching Netflix should be treated as an addiction and should not be joked about in such light tones. By not exercising control, the effects of binge watching can extend into all aspects of life, not only academic and social pursuits, but in terms of health as well. College is a stressful time as it is and there is no need to add to the headache and potential quarter-life crises that come with the early 20s by indulging in the easily preventable risk that is binge-watching TV. Netflix is great in many situations, but it is always wise to exercise some caution when indulging in this addictive instrument of leisure.