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The Dangers of Binge-Watching

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What is binge watching?

noun: binge watching; noun: binge viewing; noun: bingewatching; noun: bingeviewing
  1. the practice of watching multiple episodes of a television program in rapid succession, typically by means of DVDs or digital streaming.
    “people who watch television online say they regularly indulge in binge watching”

The common use of Netflix, Hulu, and many other streaming services has created a new problem in today’s society: binge-watching. This phenomenon allows kids, teens, and adults alike to pull up the shows and movies they want to watch, whenever they want to watch them.

There’s no need to get up from the couch or even out of bed to change discs and no need to wait for a television station to run a marathon. Instead, they can simply sit there, staring at their iPhone or iPad and putting forth no more effort to continue to watch each episode of their screen with ease.

During a binge-watching episode, the viewer spends huge chunks of time watching shows like Once Upon A Time or Pretty Little Liars without a break. At its greatest extreme, a teen might spend the entire weekend glued to the television, barely getting up for basic necessities.

Sure, the occasional binge-watching session–a marathon of a favorite show on Netflix, especially with a friend; a sick day when getting off of the couch isn’t all that appealing anyway–doesn’t sound too bad. When it becomes a regular habit, however, binge-watching can be indicative of a number of other problems.

Wikipedia’s definition:

Binge Watching - Netflix, Hulu - streaming video binge watching dangers

Loneliness and Depression

As it turns out, according to a study from the University of Texas, teens and adults who regularly head for their devices for binge-watching episodes are more likely to experience loneliness and depression. It makes sense: teens with an active social life are going to be busy going out and doing things.

They don’t have time to spend endless hours in front of a screen. Lonely or depressed teens, on the other hand, will turn to mindless Netflix of YouTube watching in order to fill their minds and get their attention off of those negative feelings. There’s just one problem: it doesn’t really fix anything.

Instead, binge-watching is a temporary band-aid that glosses over the real problem. Worse, it can cause the sense of isolation to increase as teens spend more time in front of the television than with their peers.

Lack of Self-control

Binge-watching can arise from the same lack of self-control that has teenagers compulsively checking their phones, pulling them out every time they have a spare moment. They know that they have other things to take care of: homework, chores, and even interaction with siblings and parents.

Unfortunately, they just keep clicking away anyway. In some cases, watchers intended to sit down for just an episode or two. Those intentions, unfortunately, fly straight out the window, leaving them watching episode after episode without a break. Even sleep is put off longer and longer in favor of “just one more.” As long as there’s another episode left in their show of choice, they have no urge to step away from their devices. With some of the shows on Netflix, that’s a lot of screentime!

Netsanity Parental Controls

What Kids Are Watching

Anyone who’s ever had a teenager in the house knows that they tend to directly reflect what’s going into their minds. If they watch shows filled with people who have bad attitudes, those attitudes are going to come flying straight out of their mouths. Negative shows, or those with negative portrayals of the world around them, can increase feelings of negativity and depression.

Even body image can be linked to the shows that teens are watching: too many shows filled with model-thin individuals who are still, for whatever reason, complaining that they don’t look good in their clothes can make the most beautiful teenager in the school feel insecure.

Tired Teenager sleeping on the Bed with Tablet Computer

Parental Controls for Streaming Services

Some teens don’t have the self-control to moderate their binge-watching habits on their own. For this reason, parental oversight of the situation is critical and Netflix parental controls just won’t suffice. Parents need to be aware of how much time their teens are spending on their devices. Most of the time, it’s not “just on for background noise,” and if it’s been on all day, it’s time for a change! Setting limits on screen-time can be easy to accomplish when you use a good parental control software.

As I always say, having regular conversations with your child or teen about this behavior is critical to a happy, healthy life. Encourage them to tell you why they are binge-watching, what they’re watching, and how they’re feeling as a result of that time in order to help them develop healthier viewing habits. Parents can also help schedule other activities to fill up the day, creating a clear line that displays when binge-watching has to stop.

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