Updated: Apr 18, 2019
We've been told since childhood that watching a lot of TV is lazy and bad for your health. And depending on the circumstances, there is a lot of truth in this.
In the Netfix/Hulu/Amazon Prime era however, TV shows and mini-series are created for the sole purpose of binging. Series like The Crown, Stranger Things, and Lost in Space are uploaded with every episode available to purge yourself on- and the experience is can be awesome.
I’ve always personally believed the negative effects on binging tv/films were minor compared to the positive effects. And happily research agrees with me. There are many benefits to immersing yourself into a story line for hours on end, and below are a list of some of them.
#1. It Can Strengthen Your Physical and Mental Structure
The Huffington Post stated in a 2015 article that, "according to recent research by Pennbrooke University,[ sitting for long periods of time[ and keeping your eyes focused on a monitor like a screen or mobile device will actually sharpen your eyes, brain and lower body...]researchers at the university believe the long period of sitting is actually "creating a stronger structure" for your muscles in your lower body, and improving your focus and memory."
Interestingly, Netflix-ing your day away can do the opposite of what people think, especially in regards to focus and memory. Most of us can name a friend who knows all the lore, details and theories of their favorite TV shows and film franchises (I’m guilty of this 10x over). This kind of memorization doesn’t result from the “brain melting” our parents and teachers claimed watching a lot of TV does to us.
TV shows nowadays are created to be more immersive and engaging, getting us interested in the story line. If we find something interesting, we tend to give it our full attention, thus increasing a flow of information towards our brain and resting it into our limbic system.
#2. It Increases Your Attention to Detail
This is something I’ve personally experienced time and again, especially with shows that have a high level of rewatch-ability. When binging on a series, we notice more detail than we would if we had to wait for the next episode to release the following week. Because as a series progresses in content sporadically, we tend to forget or miss certain details that may become relevant later on or that are misplaced pieces of information.
When watching the series in a consistent flow however, we are more easily equipped to notice detail, as each situation is occurring within a closer time frame. And if you regularly binge/rewatch a series, you’ll get better at noticing and pointing out even more details, which is a skill that can help you in day to day life tasks.
#3. Helps Develop Your Interest in The Subject Matter
In order to binge a series, your interest needs to be engaged. This is especially apparent with films that focus on a subject we may not know a lot about. For example, a TV show like The Flash (aka my current obsession) is a superhero show based around physics and scientific theory. I’ve always loved the superhero genre, but the science behind The Flash peaked my interest in a way that my favorite Sci-Fi films never have.
Most superhero films have a throwaway explanation for the science behind superpowers that virtually makes no sense (like Ant-Man and the overuse of the word quantum). However the physics and chemistry behind Barry Allen’s superspeed is explained in a way that, if a Particle Accelerator existed, could theoretically be possible if the human body could handle such a surge of chemical energy and muscle strain.
The way this show explains their scientific theories began to peak my interest in physics and chemistry, subjects I’ve always dreaded learning about. The Flash and its science is far fetched and fictional, but it’s story line is engaging enough that it grew my interest in a subject I used to hate, and that I’m now watching CrashCourse videos on.
#4. It Acts as a Stress Reliever
Binging a series is a release for your mind. By focusing your attention on a story-line that you enjoy, you’re relieving both your mind and physical body from the stresses of daily life. You’re basically recharging, which is one of the reasons introverts tend to watch a lot of TV and play video games. When you come back from it, you feel a clear sense of rejuvenation, that helps you face the next busy day in astounding ways.
#5. Helps You Empathize More With Others
According to a recent study on Accidental Information, “the fictional situations in the dramas we watch force us to become more empathetic, since we have to ponder about the characters’ problems from multiple perspectives. We also have to mentally fill in the gaps of their inner lives and emotions because they’re not explicitly presented to us on screen.”
This is especially true when binging a series based during a different time period, such as WWII, as we observe situations foreign to our own lives. Those scenes are based off of realistic happenings that at one time or another have occurred. By observing the way characters deal with trauma, loss and heartbreak, we can gain further understanding into the human psyche, which will benefit us in real life situations similar to that of the show we are watching.
Now don’t take this article as an excuse to purge yourself on The Office and pizza for a week straight without moving a muscle. It’s my personal opinion that intelligently researched and written shows are the best for binging, as they really get your brain flowing and thinking about intricate problems. That’s why I recommend you check out Sci-Fi shows such as The Flash, or mysteries like Sherlock.
Did I miss anything? What do you think about the effects of binge watching? Let me know in the comments below!