Is Binge-Watching Harmful or Helpful to Your Health?
Binge-Watching: Learn about the impact binge-watching has to your health by checking out this guide where we discuss its pros and cons!
Binge-watching a.k.a. marathon-viewing or binge-viewing is the practice of watching 2-6 episodes in rapid succession in one sitting. The phenomenon took off after Netflix launched its online streaming service back in 2007, and started expanding internationally on September 2011.
Almost 43 countries received their own Netflix libraries and with the exceptional quality of content available, watching entire seasons in a day became increasingly common. It is the new norm of indulging in entertainment and almost all movies/TV shows lovers now engage in it.
Nobody’s to blame for this of course, and we all know that feeling, where we just want to watch “one more” episode. Previously, this wasn’t possible, but with the inclusion of a myriad of streaming platforms like HBO Max, Disney Plus, CBS All Access, Prime Video, and Hulu, it is to be expected.
For a small subscription fee every month, you get to enjoy a huge list of addictive movies/TV shows to binge for keeping yourself entertained. However, what impact does this have on your healthy exactly? That’s what we will be discussing in this article today!
The Pros of Binge-Watching
- Increases Your General Knowledge: Regularly binge-watching different documentaries, movies and TV shows can help in consuming a wealth of knowledge on a variety of topics. Streamers often even use Google to understand different terminologies and words; boosting their vocabulary and general knowledge with constant stimulation of interesting facts.
- Allows Individuals to Break the Ice: While some claim that binge-watching results in being anti-social, there are many who say it helps in fostering new relationships and breaking the ice even with strangers. Discussing movies/TV shows is the perfect conversation starter for many and its always fun to find someone who loves something just as much as you!
- Keeps Your Brain Stimulated and Active: Good TV shows that reveal real-life depictions of action, suspense, drama, and emotions activate those areas of your brain involved in dealing with aggressions, feelings, arousals, vision, and hearing. Therefore, binge-watching may actually be a great activity for constantly stimulating your brain.
- Helps Managing Stress Effectively: After a long tiring day at work and keeping up with house chores and parental responsibilities, the only thing a person wants is to relax and unwind. Sometimes that can be difficult with our minds preoccupied about your day and the next. Binge-watching helps divert your mind and tune out the bothersome things in life.
The Cons of Binge-Watching
- May Increase Depression and Anxiety: Since binge-watching is still a relatively new phenomenon, there isn’t much research available on how impacts your mental health. However, if the activity goes unchecked, you may experience increased anxiety and depression. Some binge-watchers report experiencing increased fatigue, insomnia, and mood disturbances.
- Some Individuals May Feel Lonely: Watching a lot of movies/TV shows that show glamour and a better lifestyle may result in some viewers critically judging themselves and their shortcomings, which makes having company unnecessary or less desirable for some. Then again, where some experience loneliness, others help developing new relationships.
- Creates a Poor Sleeping Routine: According to a study from NCBI, it came to light that binge-watchers in an attempt to stream more episodes compromise on their sleep and eventually may become insomniac, due to “pre-sleep arousal”. This may be worse for those viewers who watch movies/TV shows on smaller screens that emit blue light (disrupting your circadian rhythm).
- Viewers May Develop Toxic Attachments: There’s no doubt for some binging a TV show helps deal with stress, but for others, it may result in developing unhealthy attachments with characters that don’t exist in the real life. Some viewers may also be extremely let down for a few days when a favorite TV show reaches its inevitable end.
Moderation is the Key: Be Responsible
- Be Wary About Your Physical Health: Binge-watching doesn’t mean that you dive into the couch or bed and not move for 10 hours straight. You need to keep yourself active. For lengthy TV shows, do stretches and exercises between episodes. Walk around a little. Hydrate yourself. This will keep your blood flowing and prevent you from becoming lazy.
- Deal with Cliff Hangers Intelligently: Episodes may sometimes end on a note where you are left curious as to what happens next. During such cliffhanger episodes, it is always wise to view only about 20 minutes, and then watch the rest at another time. This helps in curing the curiosity of what happens next, while ensuring you don’t get too deep into the plot.
- Plan Your Binge-Watching Routine: Too much of anything can be bad, which is why you must plan your binge-watching sessions. For working days, try sticking to three to four episodes. Meanwhile, set aside the heavy binging for the weekend. This will result in you being more relaxed, without you disrupting your routine and sleep.
- Go to Sleep If You’ve Had Enough: If you feel sleepy while binging, don’t force yourself into staying up late to watch that next episode. Pause the entertainment and resume it the next day, but don’t compromise on your sleep. This will only result in you being left irritable through the next working day, and nobody really likes that!
Wrapping Things Up
The thing about binge-watching is that it can be harmful and helpful, but which route you take is dependent on how responsible you are. If you want to remain sane mentally and physically, you will have to be a little responsible and moderate your habits accordingly. This means, you need to plan your binge-watching activities a little, as to prevent experiencing any negative symptoms from the habit.