Media Observations – Netflix and Streaming TV

We often hear the lament of a student who has not yet completed a heavy assignment because, “Netflix had the whole season and I marathoned through the whole thing.” The same is true of those who stay up late (or don’t sleep at all) because the show they were watching has four seasons out and they’ve only seen two.

I’ve seen this happen a considerable amount, especially in my own apartment. I’ve previously mentioned that it’s hard to go without watching a large of amount of TV in my living space, and one of the reasons for that is that one roommate or another is usually streaming their way through an entire season of one show or another featured on Netflix. Glee, Psych, Game of Thrones, Arrow; all of these and more are temporary tenants in the apartment, usually staying for a week or two until roommate X gets through all the seasons of it and picks a different one.

It’s great to have all this televised media at our disposal, and on a slow, recharging sort of day it can be enjoyable and even useful to catch up on a story one may have missed, but at the same time it can have some unpleasant consequences: There’s no limiter; nothing stops the viewer from just letting the site keep playing the next show. Without a week-by-week limitation, viewers can just press play one time and Netflix won’t stop until every episode is played or the viewer says “Enough.”

This damages sleep schedules, sociality and even mental health, to some degree.

Sleep schedules, when disturbed, can interfere with many other parts of a human being. Overall energy, drive for living, and health can all deteriorate very rapidly. In fact, a psychologist named Matthew Walker, of UC Berkeley, says that “almost all psychiatric disorders show some problems with sleep.”  Nikhil Swaminathan cited this in a 2007 article for Scientific American, and later said that new research from Walker’s lab is starting to give the idea that sleep deprivation actually is actually the root cause for many psychological illnesses and mental unwellness.

Netflix, Hulu, and other streaming television services can be useful tools, but it’s important to take all things in moderation.

How often or how much do you watch seasons of your favorite shows online? Is there some way that it helps you?



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