In a world of ease and convenience, we have thousands of shows to watch at our fingertips. Long gone are the days of waiting weeks for the next episode of your favourite TV show to come out. Streaming services such as Netflix have taken over traditional TV channels such as the BBC. However, there is a dark and lonely side to streaming services.
It is believed that 85% of US households have access to at least one streaming service. In 2022, it was estimated that 17 million UK households have a Netflix account. Streaming services such as Netflix have brought access to so many wonderful films and documentaries to people at an affordable price. There is however an impact on some people's mental health.
Binge-watching as it's called means that when watching a show, you can easily click on the next one and the next one. The accessibility of being able to watch a great show and not need to wait for the next one means that sometimes we cannot help ourselves but spend hours watching.
There has been concern raised about the mental health impact of binge-watching and its correlation with depression and anxiety. Films and TV shows can be an escape from reality, but for some, they can become reliant on shows as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
Studies have shown that increased screen time has been linked to anxiety and feelings of loneliness. However, this leads to a vicious cycle of using TV as a coping mechanism for anxiety which leads to further anxiety.
A study from The Guardian interviewed 406 North Americans on their TV-watching habits. Of those interviewed, 35% identified as binge-watchers. That 35% reported higher levels of anxiety and stress. The addictive nature of binge-watching is resulting in people finding themselves relying on it as an unhealthy coping mechanism.
The desire to binge-watch TV shows can result in disturbed sleep patterns. In addition to this, some have reported that they can feel empty inside after binge-watching a show.
Watching TV and films is a great pass time and enjoyable for many. However, for some, the comfort of streaming services is leading to a reliance on them to escape from the stresses of life. More research must be done into this alarming trend.
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