With Netflix and auto-play allowing you to watch TV shows on demand, binge watching seems like a new phenomenon for our generation. But does binge watching have a drastic affect on our mental health?
There have been many small studies on people who binge watch TV and movies, but it's hard to really pinpoint the relationship between mental health and the activity.
Studies by students like Yoon Hi Sung from UT-Austin, found that binge watchers have increased feelings of depression, loneliness and even addiction, and tend to watch more programs when they feel this way. However, the study doesn't confirm that watching more TV leads to depression; rather, the small population polled for the study recognize these feelings when they binge watch.
There are many challenges to understanding how binge watching affects our health.
With variables like exercise or healthy eating in relation to watching, or even what defines "binge watching" as an activity, scientists are still trying to figure out how this activity plays a role in our lives.
Because of the many layers to binge watching and different ways to interact with it--such as watching alone versus a group of people, or even watching it while interacting with an online community--more larger, in-depth studies need to be looked at before we understand it in relation to emotional well-being.
Though we can't confirm that binge watching leads to depression or unhappiness, many of us can see it as a warning sign, especially when we know something is out of sync. Whether it's a friend who recently lost a job, or switching binge watching out for regular exercise, we ourselves can help make the connection and support healthier changes.
For more on this and related topics, visit the Mental Health or Behavioral Health sections of our blog.
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