New Study Says Binge Watching is For the Sad and Lonely

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Everyone has been in this place.

Your Cheeto dust-coated hand grabs for the remote. “Yes, Netflix! Of course I’m still watching ‘Parks and Recreation’!” you announce to the empty room. It’s past midnight, but you have time for just one more. Well, maybe two. After all, episodes are only 22 minutes long. You can make that work. You can deal with a little less sleep. And then, before the feelings of sadness and utter despair can creep into your soul and force your long-in-the-works mental breakdown, that familiar theme music kicks in and all is well! For the next 22 minutes, at least.

In news that should surprise approximately no one, a new study from the University of Texas at Austin (via Slashfilm) has discovered that “binge-watching” has been linked to depression, loneliness, and the inability to make wise decisions, like getting off the couch and doing anything else. Researchers Wei-Na Lee, Yoon Hi Sung and Eun Yeon Kang surveyed 316 people between the ages of 18 and 29, asking them about their mental and emotional states while they marathoned TV shows on Netflix (the study defined binge-watching as at least three episodes in a row).

The results sound about right. 75% of those surveyed admitted to binge-watching on streaming services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Prime, with comedies and romantic shows being the most viewed programs. Those who were already depressed or lonely were more susceptible to indulging themselves on the endless buffet of entertainment offered by these services. Those with limited self control were also guilty of wasting their days re-watching ‘Friends’ instead of seeing their families and eating food that didn’t come out of a microwave.

The team plans to officially present the results of their study (which has been titled “A Bad Habit For Your Health? An Exploration Of Psychological Factors For Binge-Watching Behavior”) at a conference in a few months, but they have already made their conclusions clear. They think that binge-watching should no longer be accepted as “harmless behavior”:

Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching, and they are a cause for concern.

And you what? They’re totally right. We really should cut down on the binge-watching!

In a related story, here's what's new on Netflix and Amazon Prime this month!!

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