A lot of people say binge-watching is terrible for you but is it really that bad?
The idea that you could watch your favorite television shows by marathoning it rather than having to wait a week for each new episode was a concept that was unheard of for television years ago. The on-demand television experience is one that viewers were waiting for and the one that Netflix is now leveraging to get viewers addicted and immersed in the virtual world.
Several years ago, watching TV was something we used to entertain us in our spare time. We’d watch an episode and have to wait a week for the next one. Now our behaviors have drastically changed. New video streaming services like Netflix, Crave, Amazon Prime, and so on, are dominating the entertainment industry, and as a result, we have adjusted our way of living. Television is now accessible, any time, anywhere, at the touch of a button. In fact, we don’t even need to take any action to continue to the next episode; the platform decides for us. This is what’s wrong with the picture. We spend hours upon hours watching from our couches or worse, our beds, and we aren’t really living. In fact, if you consider the state you’re in after 5 hours of binging, it’s almost zombie-like.
When you say “yes” to staying in and watching TV
After a long day, it’s easy to cancel all engagements you’ve planned so you can jump into bed and binge-watch your current addiction, resting up for the day ahead. In reality, you aren’t really getting rest simply because binge-watching causes sleep deprivation. Adults are advised to get seven to eight hours of sleep, but these days, it’s common for most millennials to get a mere six hours, and sometimes less.
And we all know that when we’re sleep deprived, things don’t go our way. In fact, when we’re deprived of sleep, our day is thrown off, and we feel physically and mentally exhausted. This makes us prone to mistakes, which can stress us out even more, causing both anxiety and depression.
Think for a second about how the technology is enticing you to keep watching, episode after episode. Netflix knows that many episodes end on a cliffhanger. That excitement is keeping our brains intrigued and making it hard to transition to the tired state that we’re supposed to experience before bed.
And it’s cyclical from there. You stay up late to continue the series; you’re tired the next day; you decide to stay in instead of going out with friends so you go back home to watch more Netflix, and on and on. It’s time to break the wheel and say no to Netflix.
Here are 4 reasons why your Netflix addiction is lowering your quality of life:
Keeping you inside your comfort zone
There’s nothing more secure and comforting than crawling in bed to watch your favorite show. Sure you’re learning and maybe even watching documentaries, but you aren’t pushing yourself to try challenges beyond the temporary mental stimulation. You need to challenge yourself physically, socially, emotionally for a well-balanced life.
Taking a toll on your relationships
When we substitute TV for human interaction, we disconnect from reality and substitute it for the virtual world. We are wired to connect with others, and when we disconnect from life and over-connect to TV, we may feel a temporary high but eventually, it ends. TV is not a substitute for relationships and is very unfulfilling over time. When you say no to friends, and yes to Netflix, it can become addicting leading to a lack of control, a take-over of your life.
Binge-watching is hurting your physical health
Adults who watched more than three hours of TV a day doubled their risk of premature death compared to those who watched less, according to a recent study.
Look at it this way- it would take you:
- 3 full days to watch How I Met Your Mother
- 3 full days to watch The Good Wife
- Over 6 days to watch 24
- 2 days and 14 hours for Breaking Bad
If these numbers don’t cause you to question your binging habits, consider how much time you lose if you binge multiple series. Think about everything else you could be doing to live a more well-rounded and fulfilling life.
Multiple screens are training your brain to be a disorganized mess
We’re all guilty of texting while re-watching an episode of Friends. We may not notice it at the time, but focusing on two things at once, even if it’s sending a quick text or clearing our inbox, is bad for our brain. When you focus on a single task at a time and take in information properly, it’s stored in one part of the brain where data is easy to recall.
However, when you flick between your phone, laptop, or TV screen, the information is sent to another part of the brain which plans movements and motivation, rather than storing data, so any information it receives is much harder to recall. Therefore, the more information we’re taking in from different sources, the more we are actually training our brains to be disorganized.
It’s not all bad. Here’s how Netflix can be beneficial:
Taking it off-screen can help you connect to people
Binge-viewing tends to be a very isolating activity. In fact, whenever you spend too much time on something, you’re taking time away from other essential areas in life, like hanging out with friends or working. But, if you get into a show with your significant other or a friend, it could bring you closer as it gives you common ground for talking about something you’re both interested in.
Chatting with other fans about the show you’re watching can be a good way to make your binging healthier since it pulls you away from the screen and allows you to reflect on what you’ve just watched. This also allows you to connect and find people with similar interests so you can relate to them.
So, how can you take control of your streaming addiction?
Here are a few things you can do to limit your Walter White intake:
- Set a limited number of episodes you consume
- Plan events ahead of time with your friends and stick to your commitment
- Have a consistent bedtime so you don’t say “just one more episode”
- If you must binge, make it healthier by standing, stretching, and taking mini-breaks for physical activity
With so many fun and exciting opportunities to learn, challenge yourself, and make memories, Netflix doesn’t have a place in your life every single day. We need to change the amount of time we set aside for it. Instead of succumbing to more episodes of The Office, plan a fun night out at a VR arcade or show off your culinary skills at a cooking class.
Have you ever heard anyone say, “that night I marathoned Ozark was so hype I’ll never forget it!”. There’s a time and place for binge-watching, and balance is vital for a healthy, fulfilling life. Instead of clicking “Next Episode” to find out if Rachel and Ross get back together, or if Heisenberg ever gets caught, consider getting off the couch and making your own memories with the people that actually matter.