Binge Watching TV Shows Has Been Linked To Loneliness And Depression

Kevin Spacey in House of Cards. Photo: Getty Images.

Those marathon sessions watching all of the first season of a hit TV show seems a harmless way to consume the latest top rating shows such as House of Cards.

However, a study by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that the more lonely and depressed you are, the more likely you are to binge watch.

Yoon Hi Sung, Eun Yeon Kang and Wei-Na Lee from the University of Texas at Austin will present their findings at the 65th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

The researchers surveyed 316 people aged 18 to 29 on how often they watched TV, how often they had feelings of loneliness, depression and self-regulation deficiency, and how often they binged on TV.

The more lonely and depressed the study participants were, the more likely they were to binge watch as a way to distance negative feelings.

And 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 things which needed doing.

Little research has been done on binge watching because it is such a new behaviour.

“Even though some people argue that binge watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge watching should no longer be viewed this way,” Sung said.

“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. Our research is a step toward exploring binge-watching as an important media and social phenomenon.”

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