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Is our Netflix habit harming our health?

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Luke Whincop discusses whether our habit of binging TV programmes is bad for us…

“I judge art not for its own sake, but for its purpose” is a quote I’ve aspired to, which I believe means that art, in whatever form, has a duty to make a positive impact with what it represents. Netflix is a rapidly developing platform for showcasing TV shows. One might say that live TV is slowly dying out, especially for students. Of course, many people have heard of Netflix and Chill, and Netflix and Binge, but is it good for us?

Recent research shows a link between binge-watching Netflix shows, depression, and loneliness, though in a sense, this is not new. People have binge-watched TV series in the past and have felt similar effects, most likely due to the lack of physical activity and poor eating habits that are often inherent in excessive TV-watching. For students, it’s particularly enticing after a long day of lectures when you want to switch off your brain and relax, but it’s also easy to slip into a cycle of Netflix and Isolation. This naturally carries a further risk of damaging relationships, between couples and friends, a phenomenon that can occur with excessive social media use. But is Netflix always bad news?

For students, it’s particularly enticing after a long day of lectures when you want to switch off your brain and relax…

One area I believe Netflix should explore further is creating more meaningful messages through their programmes. This doesn’t necessarily mean forcing viewers to watch a programme with detailed analyses of the works of Matisse, but it could mean getting them to think more about their everyday lives. For instance, House of Cards is an excellent satire of current American politics, and 13 Reasons Why, despite its controversy, did take an approach to analysing the consequences of untreated mental health issues and what can or should be done to prevent such tragedies. In addition to this, Netflix can have a positive impact on mental health not just through TV programmes; there are programmes that can help you meditate. In a more general sense, it can also be a good way to distract yourself to prevent the mental rumination that often accompanies mental illnesses.

One gap I have noticed in the Netflix catalogue, however, appears to be a lack of popular science shows. Horizon on BBC1 recently made an episode about potential future technologies, dealing with developments in AI, biology, and transportation. It is likely in the future that shows like these would be created on Netflix, which is producing original content at a rapid pace. If Netflix is able to produce such shows, it would be a great way to popularise science, so that more people would, in some way, be more motivated to pursue and value the subject. I believe that this could have wider ramifications on improving society.

Netflix and Binge can be bad if it is taken to excess and not used to provide meaningful insights and ideas to improve peoples’ lives…

Netflix and Binge can be bad if it is taken to excess and not used to provide meaningful insights and ideas to improve peoples’ lives. However, it can also be a great way to distribute such ideas to mass audiences, and perhaps someday improve the world in a big way.

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