Professors Robert Kubey and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, experts in media and psychological studies, have delved into the Netflix/TV-addiction phenomenon and have asked the question: is binge watching TV an addiction? If you're a Netflix-junky, you may not like the findings.

Analyzing and researching the watching habits of  'TV addicts,' patients reported feeling immediately relaxed when the TV came on, and continued to be, until  the viewing session ended, which quickly prompted a feeling of sadness.

This Pavlov's dog-style cycle leads to prolonged binge watching sessions, because people want to feel happy, while watching television, and not be bummed out, when the TV is turned off.

The happy-to-sad TV watching cycle is compared to addiction forming drugs, like tranquilizers. TV and tranquilizers work the same way, both causing a temporary happiness, then plunging the user into a quick withdrawal and making them want more.

No one needs to tell a Netflix-junky that they have a problem, but are there any real negative consequences of watching too much TV? Well, this study's findings (and another) show that binge-watchers:

  • are more anxious and stressed in unstructured/unplanned situations (e.g. waiting in line)
  • have shorter attention spans
  • loss of self restraint
  • documented withdrawal symptoms (like increased irritability) after missing a viewing session.

Sound like you? 

 For more on Netflix, the brain, and all things TV, follow Michael on Twitter @MDAlimonte 
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