Binge-watching, also known as marathon-watching or rapid-tv-watch, is the customary practice of watching multiple contents for a prolonged period of time, usually a minimum of a single TV show. In a recent survey conducted by Netflix, 73 percent of individuals defined binge-watching as 'watching multiple TV shows simultaneously'. This represents a significant increase from previous surveys when only a small fraction of internet users admitted to watching multiple television shows at once.
How did the research come to this conclusion? During a webinar, conducted jointly by Oxford Internet Institute and Oxford University's Department of Psychology, participants were asked: "Just how many episodes of television do you typically watch in a week?" responses received from more than 700 people showed that a large majority of internet users (nearly 70%) regularly binge-watch multiple episodes of a TV series in one sitting. The study found that those who binge-watched their shows were more likely to have binging behaviors associated with disorders such as compulsive eating disorder, internet addiction, and gambling.
In another study, researchers followed up on the initial question of how many episodes of any given TV show may be too much for a viewer to have. They found that people who watched at least three episodes of their favorite shows every week were less inclined to binge drink than those who didn't watch any TV at all. They were less likely to have a binging episode at all. The same pattern was found in adults with different diets: people on low-fat diets and low-calorie diets were at higher risk for weight gain when they binge shopped.
Because of these findings, researchers began to wonder if the connection between binge-watching episodes and increased dopamine levels was related to an imbalance in the way the brain processed information. To test this hypothesis, a research team led by psychiatrist Marlborough University psychologists began recruiting a group of male volunteers who regularly binge shopped. These volunteers had all previously completed similar diet and exercise plans. The study compared the effects of this diet with those of a control group that did not participate in dieting and exercise programs.
In a study published in May 2009 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, participants who participated in a four-week diet study reported an average of one binge episode per week. Of the participants, twenty-one percent binged on TV, nearly three percent binged on internet videos, and one percent binged on live streaming TV. This study is critical because it shows how easy it can be to over-consume when you're watching TV and how hard it can be to maintain a healthy balance between watching tv and maintaining a healthy diet. Weigh the merits against the minuses, and you'll be better off.
Finally, it's best to binge-watch with others instead of making it an isolating habit that could strain your relationships. Make it a fun activity with a partner or friend, have a dialogue after each chapter, and talk about what you liked and disliked because it's hard to watch several episodes and not have thoughts, after all.