Caution: Binge watching can be dangerous!

By Emily Salvatori, Assistant Editor
It is not uncommon to hear people talking about watching a whole TV series in only a handful of days, or even bragging about it yourself. With streaming websites like Netflix and Hulu among others, it has become so easy to get caught up in watching a show.  Even though binge watching may seem harmless, and has even become mainstream, it is dangerous, and students should stop binging their favorite TV shows.
Binge behavior is seen as a problem in terms of eating, drinking, or shopping, but binge viewing is somehow seen as less risky. Streaming companies like Netflix even seem to promote it. Netflix recently released a “Binge Scale” that shows which shows people like to “savor” and which viewers “devour.” 
Cindy Holland, Vice President of Original Content at Netflix said, “Netflix helps you to find a series to binge no matter your mood or occasion.” Netflix also defines binging as watching between two and six episodes of the same show in one session. It is common to see articles about the best shows to binge, and all of these attitudes lead to binge watching to seem harmless and normal, however that is not always the case. 
There are many reasons why we binge watch TV, partly that it has become so easy. Many streaming sites have all the seasons of the entire show at your fingertips, and Netflix automatically plays the next episode. Watching “just one more episode” is a lot easier when the next episode plays without the need for the viewer to press any buttons. 
Cliffhangers are an effective way to keep viewers watching a show from episode to episode and season to season. Emma Romanek, a student at West Liberty, said, “It’s hard to stop watching after just one episode, especially if the episodes have a suspenseful ending.” 
Furthermore, we may binge watch because it makes us feel good. Clinical psychologist Dr. Jonathan Fader said, “Watching a series to completion gives us a feeling of control and power.” 
Watching TV for long periods of time can cause health issues. Being sedentary can cause many health issues such as higher risk of diabetes. A study led by epidemiologist Andrea Kriska shows “the risk of developing diabetes increased approximately 3.4 percent for each hour spent watching TV.”  Sitting for long periods of time can also slow down your metabolism, leading to weight gain. Furthermore, the screen itself can cause problems. 
Watching TV may also cause eye strain, and looking at screens for too long can disrupt your sleep. Your mood can be altered by binge watching, and binge watching is sometimes linked to feelings of loneliness because of the isolating nature of binge viewing. However, by cutting back on the amount of TV you watch, your health and mood could be improved.
Binge watching TV can be harmful to you and your health, and if you binge watch shows regularly, you should stop. You don’t have to give up Netflix all together, but cutting back on the amount of time you watch it is important. 
If you have to binge every once in awhile, take breaks, rest your eyes, and get up and stretch every so often.  Exercise can also help combat some of the effects of binge watching. Cutting back on Netflix may seem hard at first, but in the end it is more rewarding.
Photo credit: Emily Salvatori