The clinic released information that the patient spent seven hours a day daily watching shows and movies for six months and couldn’t stop. The clinic, that focuses on treating tech-related medical conditions, also stated that four years ago, they used to receive two such cases a week. Now, the number has risen to eight.
Psychiatrists across the world admit that addiction due to social media and the concept of ‘binge-watching’ is constantly on the rise, with the latter especially causing concern. With streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hotstar and more channels releasing a show’s entire season in one go, more and more youngsters spend late nights telling themselves, “One more episode…” before ultimately giving in to the urge.
The ‘reward centre’ of the brain is galvanised when people get to know what is happening in the next episode of their favourite series, explain doctors. This releases chemicals that bring about a feeling of satisfaction. Think about it when the next season of Game of Thrones comes calling; can a fan really go to bed knowing a new episode is waiting to be seen?
“Just like gambling and substance abuse becomes an addiction, binge-watching and social media usage has turned into a form of addiction today. For children and teens, the onus is on the parents to ensure that time management is done wisely from an early age and studying, playing, family time and then TV time is proportioned accordingly. Only if done at an early age, will the habit persist,” said Dr Vasanth, a psychiatrist from Fortis Malar Hospital.
Speaking about the kind of measures adults should take, he added, “Identifying the addiction is the first step. On a holiday, if a person binge-watches shows for some time to relieve themselves of boredom or stress – and then has a normally functional day after that – it is acceptable. However, when it happens on a daily basis and interferes with one’s normal routine, when they become anti-social and start skipping out on obligations to stay home and watch TV... these are the times when intervention is necessary.”
It can, however, be curtailed with a sense of awareness and the help of friends and family. V Ashok, an IT professional said that he too was suffering from a case of binge-watching addiction for months before his girlfriend finally forced him to change his lifestyle habit. “Shows like Rick and Morty, House of Cards, Breaking Bad, and so on really consumed me every evening. I couldn’t wait to complete my work for the day, get home and spend until 4am watching these series. I subscribed to every streaming website as well.”
“Thankfully, my girlfriend noticed this pattern for a few months and insisted that I enrol in the gym or pursue an outdoors activity at least twice a week. We had arguments, but finally I relented and now I’m able to balance my TV-watching appropriately,” said Ashok.