How binge-watching can help or hurt students

McKenzie Jean-Philippe

You’re sitting in front of the computer, and you know you have a five-page essay due the next day.

After hours of typing, one paragraph is complete. After accomplishing so much, you reward yourself with a quick study break.

With one click, you’ve logged into your Netflix account. You tell yourself that you’ll watch one episode of “Friends” and then go back to your essay. However, before you know it, you’ve watched the entire first season, and your paper is no closer to being finished.

Unfortunately, this scenario is all too familiar amongst students. Many people have succumbed to what is commonly known as “binge-watching.”

The term refers to the practice of watching episode after episode of a streamed show for hours at a time, and this practice has both positive and negative effects on students.

“If someone is binge-watching TV and it’s interfering with other things they need to be doing like sleep, eating normal meals or other responsibilities, that’s when it would be problematic,” said Alanna Updegraff, assistant professor and director of Kent State’s Psychological Clinic. “Why are you doing it? If you are doing it to avoid something, then that may be a problem.”

Binge-watching shows online has become popular in today’s society due to websites such as Netflix and Hulu. For a price of only $8.99 a month, Netflix offers hundreds of movies and TV series that can be watched instantly on your computer, smart phone or tablet.

“I did it for a few hours at a time in the summer when I really didn’t have anything else to do,” said Bobbie Martucci, sophomore human development and family studies major.

Freshman exploratory major Ryan Poirrier believes that the binging trend has become so common because Netflix produces exciting shows such as “Orange Is the New Black” or “House of Cards.” Series like these are released a full season at a time, instead of episode by episode on a weekly basis.

“I binge-watch Netflix because I find a show that I really like and then I just want to watch every single episode,” Poirrier said.

Binging on some favorite shows sounds innocent enough if students are bored, looking for something to do with a friend or have a rare amount of free time. They only have to open laptops and click on the first show that they see.

However, this trend of watching hours of TV at a time can be cause for concern.

“Over the course of a week, I could knock out every season of a show,” Poirrier said. “If I’m bored, watch Netflix. If I’m doing homework, watch Netflix.”

Although there can be concerns with the amount of students who watch Netflix, the ways that binge-watching affects students varies between individuals.

“(The effects of binge-watching) probably depend on to what extent because everything is a matter of degree,” Updegraff said.

She said that binge-watching can be a good form of down time or self-care. If people have time available after completing their responsibilities, it’s OK to watch a few hours of a favorite show every now and then.

So the next time you sit in front of your laptop and get ready to start a new season of “The Office,” don’t feel too guilty for giving in to the binge. 

Contact McKenzie Jean-Philippe at [email protected].