Uh-Oh! Is Binge-Watching Bad For Mental Health?

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It may sound like a teen's ideal Saturday night: grabbing a laptop and watching reruns of Friends. But is binge-watching TV shows bad for their mental health? A new study suggests yes (unfortunately!). Researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that the more lonely and depressed a person is, the more likely they are to binge-watch television.

The researchers conducted a survey with more than 300 18- to 29-year-olds. It focused on how often they had feelings of loneliness and depression, as well as how often they binge-watch. The end result? The more lonely or depressed a person was, the more likely they were to use TV to cope with those feelings.

According to Science Daily,

The findings also showed that those who lacked the ability to control themselves were more likely to binge-watch. These viewers were unable to stop clicking “Next” even when they were aware that they had other tasks to complete.

While watching TV may seem relatively harmless, Yoon Hi Sung, who worked on the study, says otherwise. Sung explains,

Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously.

Even though it’s not the healthiest hobby, of course teens can still watch in moderation! It’s just important to remind them that other activities are just as fulfilling. Plus, if they can sneak some crunches or push-ups during commercial breaks, that can be an instant mood-booster!

To learn more about teen’s mental health, check out Choices magazine! It’s a health, well-being, and life skills publication for middle and high school students.