A recent study out of the University of Austin, Texas to be presented this year in San Juan, Puerto Rico at the 65th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association will show that people who binge watch television (binge watching being defined as watching multiple episodes of a television show in rapid succession) are more likely to be depressed, and lonely than those who do not regularly binge watch.
The survey that tells a story
The study consisted of a survey of 316 people between the ages of 18 – 29 years old, on how frequently they watched television and how that data correlated with the frequency of the participant’s feelings of depression, loneliness, and failure to self-regulate, and how often these feelings resulted in them binge watching television.
What is binge watching?
The act of binge watching serves to remove people from their negative feelings about their loneliness and depression, as a sort of escape into a fantasy world where they can forget about the reality of their situation. People who practice addictive behaviors are similar in that they engage in their behaviors so as to forget their reality.
Since binge watching is such a new human behavior, there has been little research conducted on what it is and what happens to us when we engage in it.
Could it be classified as an addiction?
The findings of the study found that the people who were the least likely to exhibit impulse control were also the most likely to binge watch. Even when the viewers were aware of pressing tasks and things to do, they still continued to watch television. The degree to which someone lacks self-regulation is indicative of how often they engage in an addictive behavior.
The negative effects of binge watching
Findings from the study may suggest that binge watching is not as harmless an addiction as many people would believe. Researchers are discovering that binge watching may cause physical fatigue, obesity, and further health problems because of the viewer remaining sedentary for long lengths of time. These consequences could lead to other problems, such as procrastination of work and social interactions, which also serve to decrease our quality of life.
Unfortunately, people who binge watch know that they shouldn’t, and have difficulty resisting the addictive desire to continue watching television. Hopefully this new study will be a step in the direction of understanding and treating this new phenomenon.