Binge-watching is a popular trend as 70% of Americans do it and it has become the new video gaming. Binge-watching, also called binge-viewing, is the practice of watching television for longer time spans than usual, usually of a single television show.
Binge-watching is addictive because you don’t have to wait a week to see the next episode, so it is tempting to watch the whole season in one sitting. A more recent study found that most Netflix members choose to binge-watch their way through a series versus taking their time — on average finishing an entire season in one week.
In fact, according to Nielsen, 361,000 people watched all nine episodes of season 2 of 'Stranger Things,' on the first day it was released.
When binge-watching your favorite show, your brain is continually producing dopamine, and your body experiences a drug-like high.
Your brain can become addicted to any activity or substance that consistently produces dopamine.
The Negative Impact of Binge-Watching
Here are a few ways the science of binge-watching affects your mind, body and soul.
1. More likely to report higher levels of stress, anxiety and depression
2. Increased risk of obesity, and type 2 diabetes. (sitting is the new smoking).
3. Leads to sleep deprivation and insomnia. (The CEO of Netflix says they are competing with sleep).
4. Robs us of face-to-face family interaction.
5. Linked to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Cutting Down on Binge-Watching
Spend no more than 2 hours a night – set a timer on your phone
Limit to stopping an hour before bedtime
Only binge-watch on weekends
Try to not watch alone
Keep the lights on so you don’t get lost in the show
Don’t use binging to self-medicate your pain
Delay gratification by waiting to see what happens tomorrow
If you do binge-watch do it together as a couple or as a family and then use it to have discussions about what you think and feel. Real relationships and real life can be difficult, but at the end of the day it is much more enriching, growth producing and connecting than sitting binge-watching for hours alone.