We’ve all had those lazy Sundays when the couch’s gravitational pull is too strong to escape — but as binge watching becomes a bigger part of the cultural landscape, some people are finding it even harder to break free.

There’s not a lot of hard clinical data on binge watching to date. Most psychologists and researchers haven’t had time to do long-term surveys. But as with any new form of obsessive entertainment, there’s a schism forming among researchers.

Some experts, like Dr. Pamela Rutledge, a media psychologist and faculty member at California’s Fielding Graduate University, say they see benefits in the hobby — and take issue with the term “binge watching.”

“What I think is very interesting about this phenomenon is we call it ‘binge watching,’ which is a social pejorative,” she says.”We don’t say we’re binge reading if we tuck ourselves away with a Dickens novel, but we call it binge watching because we couldn’t do this before. … There are actually lots of positives in watching media. It allows you to experience emotions, it can be cathartic and it allow you to see models of different sorts of behaviors.”

But the number of experts and studies arguing the opposite position is bigger, as is often the case in the early days of an emerging trend. And they can be fairly alarming. Here’s a look at some of the reported downsides facing people who take binge watching too far.


A 2015 University of Texas study noted that loneliness and depression were common factors in any sort of binge behavior — including binge watching. Ultimately, researchers said, the more lonely and depressed people are, the more likely they are to binge watch TV, in hopes that doing so would help them avoid other negative feelings in and about their lives.

Suffering sex life

In the 1990s, says David Spiegelhalter, a professor and statistician at Cambridge University, couples had sex about five times per month. Today it’s down to three — and Spiegelhalter says binge watching is partially to blame. (In fairness, he also points to people’s obsessions with their phones and other digital distractions.) A seeming combination of obsessive watching of shows and the ensuing lack of sleep results in a lowered libido.

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