Exploring The Negative Effects of Binge-Watching

Drawing the line to this bad habit.

We have the luxury to watch just about anything we want commercial-free with easy access to thousands of TV shows, movies, and documentaries. Thanks to the evolution of online streaming platforms, the term binge-watching is now a norm. “Binge”, a negative word that means doing something excessively, is now perceived as something positive. 

You might think that this habit won’t hurt anyone, but, in fact, the person that will be most affected by it is your own self. Binge-watching has increased in ten folds since March 2020, when most of the world started practicing social distancing and living in lockdowns due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. 

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How binge-watching addiction begins

Binge-watching is viewed as a saviour for us who are bored at home dealing with the new normal. But, if the habit is left unchecked, it can lead to an addiction that’s similar to other types of habitual habits like gambling and alcoholism. It could stimulate the brain’s pleasure centers in some people and eventually lead binge-watchers to seek increasing levels of gratification through story arcs and cliff-hanging endings. They will overindulge to the point that this bad habit will interfere with daily life. 

The disconnect to physical surroundings

After hours of bingeing, one might find themselves falling asleep in the midst of a streaming “marathon”. The next thing you know, you’re late for work and may also lose concentration due to the lack of sleep. This addiction can also lead to an obsession with personal devices, which at the same time takes you away from your physical surroundings. It is unlike watching cable or satellite-based television, which in a way, forces a household to sit together to watch the programmes and encourages interactions with others living in the same household. Having commercial help breaks the viewing pattern too, and allows short breaks at the same time. 

Overstimulating the brain

Continuous TV watching is most harmful in children and adolescents, especially because their brains aren’t fully developed yet. The electromagnetic frequencies that are transmitted through these devices may have negative effects on the brains and bodies of younger people. Adults aren’t immune either. Passive stimulation isn’t encouraged for people over 45 years old. Binge-watching might use the same neurological networks, but the networks that are not being used and not being regularly exercised are put into “buzz” mode. 

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Simple solutions

At the end of the day, moderation is the key. You can break out of the couch potato habits. Press that pause button, get up, and stretch. Better yet, get on your treadmill while catching up with your favourite shows. You can also limit your streaming time over the week rather than chunks at a time. This will help prolong the pleasure derived from streaming and may also encourage binge-watching addicts to switch to more physical activities.

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