There has been a constant stream of negativity about when teenagers haul themselves up in their rooms and binge watch TV series.
The ‘Netflix Effect’ has seen some real bad press. When a whole series appears in full there is encouragement to watch it all in one session, often taking over work commitments, school, and sleeping. Binge watching can lead to laziness, over eating, being un-sociable.
It is reported that this can become an addiction, and as most binge watching sessions are carried out alone by a teenager (better Netflix binging than Netflix and Chill in most parents eyes) it means they spend a long time with little social interaction, which can in-turn then trigger social anxiety and depression.
And there you go… as usual, something fun and enjoyable just turned into something else bad.
To start with, I don’t like the term ‘binge’ on this topic, it conjures up links to over eating and over drinking. It’s negative to start with. Did you ever get told stop ‘binge reading?’ Have you ever heard a concerned parent of a teenager saying that their child is ‘binge reading a series of books?’ The answer is probably no. Reading chapters or books in rapid succession isn’t thought of as negatively, but a similar story portrayed on the screen can be.
I am also not sure if the link between binge watching tv and depression is a strong one. Maybe it isn’t the Netflix binge that creates the depression, but more so that some people who are staying in the house and watching a series in a day are just already depressed.
The nation has evolved around the TV being in the home, sofas arranged around the TV in the living room, days start catching the news in the morning to watching the soaps at night. We can be educated from that screen, entangled in a mystery, using our strong cognitive ability to keep up with complicated storylines and character back history.
For a teenager, after a rough, long day at school, sitting in 5 different lessons, one after the other, expectations to put hands up, answer questions, write solidly for an hour, to complete examination questions with no revision, homework set with a short deadline, the pressure of social interaction, social activity that they can’t escape from because it’s in their phone….maybe binge watching a TV series can give the same escape that adults crave after their day at work. A psychological escape from the stress.
Ultimately, everyone needs an escape, teenagers more so after an emotionally draining day at school and if zoning out in their bedroom, hooked on series 3 of a show that they love, recognising positive personality traits in their favourite character, working out the plot before they’ve seen it.
It can re- charge their batteries, give them something to discuss with their friends when they get to school, be inspired by a strong leading character, and maybe most importantly allow them to de-stress and shut the rest of the world out, maybe it isn’t such a bad thing?