Some call this age of streaming television on sites like Hulu, Netflix, and Amazon the golden age of television, where one can have access to entire seasons without having to plan their next four months around the air date. Now there is no waiting involved. You can watch a whole season in a day if that is your thing. I sure have lost time on binging shows. Being in college during this golden age, I have learned that sometimes binging can be the worst thing when trying to stay focused. The next button automatically switches over if I don’t stop it. When it is a good show that can be a very hard thing to do. In Jessica Firger’s article by Depression, and loneliness linked to binge-watching TV. In a study that looked into 316 young people’s viewing habits, she explains why binge watching can lead to depression and loneliness. “The study also found problems with self-control were associated with excessive television,” explains Firger.
Netflix seems to be the innovator and the benefactor of this unhealthy form of television watching. Not only being detrimental to one’s mental health, binging can be associated with long periods of inactivity that can lead to health problems. Now in 2017, the binge watcher is the quintessential couch potato. The addictive quality of binge viewing seems to have the same outcomes as many other addictions do, and like many other addictions, it can fill in a void, or just consume the user before they even realize they have lost months or sometimes even years to their addiction. Here are some signs that you are addicted to Netflix and need to pick up a book or go walk the dog:
- If you say one more episode, but never stop watching.
- If the dreaded “Are you still watching?” message pops up.
- If you are stressed over all the other things you have to get done, but can’t stop watching Netflix.
- You feel like you are close friends with the characters from your favorite shows.
- You become depressed when the season is over like you just went through a loss.
- Your back starts hurting from sitting for so long.
- You can’t stop thinking about Netflix even when the TV is off and you are away from the remote.
Here’s how you break the habit
As long time periods in the house watching TV can be negative on mental and physical health; time spent outside can have a positive effect on mood and health. In my opinion sunshine and exercise can be the best way to fight loneliness and depression no matter how it manifested in the first place.
I am not saying people shouldn’t watch TV but treat it with self-control like you would with anything else. The withdrawal from John Snow or Jessica Jones can be hard to kick the first couple days, but don’t worry they will be back…Until they get canceled anyway. The most important thing to do is give yourself breaks, schedule your day, figure out what shows you want and come up with a watching schedule.
Rehab and Chill
In an article on mic.com, Brent McCluskey explains Netflix addiction and the treatment centers and self-help groups that offer recovery and aftercare. McCluskey interviewed Hillarie Cash, a licensed mental health counselor specializing in internet and screen addiction. She said the best way to do it by yourself is going cold turkey. For people who are looking for a more affordable way to kick the habit, but struggle going cold turkey she gave this advice:
If you’re not willing to do a cold turkey approach, then it’s called a hard reduction-approach, where you gradually wean yourself away. … Set goals and install technology that will help you limit your screen time and reduce it until you are only watching as much as you have decided to watch.
When it comes down to it the best way to fight binging on anything is self-control and being aware that it is a problem. People may not even be aware of the connection between binging on Netflix and negative effects like depression and loneliness. Never the less when they become aware of it, they can take the steps to gain control and balance over their lives.