Debate: Is binge-watching a harmful habit?

Round 1

Side 1: Binge-watching can be a really fun thing to do since most of us have at least one TV show or movie series that we love enough to watch without pause, but that doesn’t mean that it’s necessarily helpful or healthy. In fact, a habit of binge-watching can be downright harmful. After all, binge-watching usually means that those watching are sitting still for long periods of time, which studies have shown is not helpful to someone’s health in the long run. A sedentary life can lead to heart, circulation and metabolism issues. This is problematic when so many people in our society have office jobs. Adding hobbies like binge-watching TV shows would only add to the potential health issues. Plus, binge-watching tends to increase insomnia and fatigue since viewers, especially binge-watchers, may spend time that they should have spent sleeping to watch or think about the TV show that they are currently obsessed with. This fatigue means it would be easier to catch some sort of illness or be less alert and more susceptible to accidents, including potentially fatal ones. Thus, binge-watching can be dangerous, not only to you but indirectly to others as well.

Side 2: While there is no doubt that exposing oneself to hours together to a TV screen may cause harms like insomnia and fatigue, there are many other ways people can harm their bodies and binge-watching is not even among the top ten of that list. I believe binge-watching only makes it easier to enjoy and understand plot complexity in the art of television. Many show episodes end on a cliffhanger, which, sometimes can cause anxiety for the fans of the show. Formats like Netflix have only made it easier to binge-watch as the sense of anxiety only lasts for a few seconds before you click the “continue watching.” Binge-watching is part of viewing experience and is similar to that of picking a book that you absolutely can’t put down until you have read it cover to cover. The gratifying experience of being immersed in a story until you see the end of the plot is good for positive psychological upliftment. Art is a personal experience and it is up to the people how they want to be entertained. If binge-watching becomes a hobby to escape from the materialistic stress, then so be it.

Round 2

Side 1: While binge-watching can definitely give the viewer a good feeling and can sometimes help people to parse through plot complexities, to say that these reasons make it a good habit to have is a little bit of a stretch. That feel-good chemical from enjoying your show? Afterward, that can also come with feelings of failure and guilt for wasting time. Not only that, but at least one study has shown that those who binge-watch are more likely to be depressed or lonely. Binge-watching, while a distraction from other issues, can’t erase them. Add that to a tendency that some viewers have to basically grieve the ending of a season once their binge-watching is over, and we have a recipe for poor emotional health. Plus, binge-watching a show means that viewers have to try and comprehend all the important plot points the first time around. Yes, cliffhangers are annoying, but even waiting one day for the next episode allows you to processes everything more thoroughly. Better yet is processing it with other enthusiasts, and suddenly we have a community activity, thus reducing some of the loneliness and feelings of guilt and failure that may occur. Binge-watching may be enjoyable, but so is savoring your favorite show—and the latter comes with less of the risks.

Side 2: In 2016, Stranger Things was voted as the most binge-watched show in the world. It was clear that watching such shows on a weekly episode basis will not have the same experience as that of binging it eight hours in a row. As a Game of Thrones fan, I choose to wait for all the episodes to air and binge watch it together since there are so many moving parts in the plot and it is hard to keep up with it. A majority of viewers believe that binge-watching is not a regular activity in their lives, it is just a way to get an experience over with quickly and take a significant gap before repeating it with the next TV show. Everyone has addictions, some more serious than others. Psychologists contend that when you watch a show, you release the feel-good chemical dopamine in your brain which is the similar experience one gets on drugs. Bottom line is binge-watching is enjoyable and is definitely better than drugs.

Side 1 argued by Rebecca Barkdoll and Side 2 argued by Animesh Sarkar

*Note: This debate ran April 11