During the COVID–19 pandemic, we know how everything shifted to online mode from schools to movie theaters. The online world had started around a few years before and the world was slowly shifting towards it before the pandemic. But during the pandemic, the online platforms took a rise. We all have watched a lot of web series and due to the pandemic, it increased even more. As the web series have short episodes, engaging content and is convenient to watch anywhere and anytime, binging web series initiated. Web series are engaging and entertaining. Some of them are even so engaging that after starting we do not until we finish it which we call it as binge-watching. But have we ever thought that does it have any impact on our mental health and if so, is it positive or negative?
Culture of Binge-Watching:
The Indian population has apparently shifted towards OTT platforms than traditional Television. Several most used OTT platforms are Netflix, Amazon Prime, Sony LIV, etc. These platforms provide access to entertainment content instantly, which attracts the youth. Since the last decade, India has witnessed technological advancement in the field of transformative media. New platforms of entertainment or television media are smartphones, the internet, television, and OTT platforms. This made a notable change in the choice of viewers and their viewing patterns (Dhiman, 2022).
Effects of Binge-Watching Web Series:
According to research, binge-watching series have been linked with negative emotions. Several other studies suggest that binge-watching is correlated with body dissatisfaction, lowering academic performance, symptoms of depression, and low self-esteem. Even the social life of an individual is affected due to binge-watching (Dhiman, 2022).
According to a study conducted, depression and loneliness were related to binge-watching. The age range of the study was 18 to 20 years old. Studies also prove that several modifications in the attitudes, behavior, and social life of an individual are affected by binge-watching web series (Dhiman, 2022).
The Statistical Data:
In a study, the participants were asked a few questions related to web series. For the question how much time do they spend watching web series or any online content daily? Almost 70.2 % of people agreed that they spend around 1 to 3 hours daily, while 22.3% of people spend 4 to 6 hours daily and the remaining 7.6% agreed that they spend more than 7 hours daily watching online content or any web series (Dhiman, 2022).
Another question asked was if they feel there is a psychological impact of the web series on them. 32% of the participants responded yes, 38% responded no, whereas 28.8% were not sure about it. Further questions were asked (Dhiman, 2022).
Adverse Mental health outcome due to binge-watching during the COVID-19 pandemic:
According to a study conducted by Raza et al. (2021), a cross-sectional research design was used. The study focused on determining the impact of binge-watching on mental health problems like depression, anxiety, stress, loneliness, and insomnia. The results showed that binge-watching has negative consequences like depression, anxiety, stress, and loneliness. Extant literature found that stress and other negative consequences like mood swapping, and feeling of restlessness are seen due to the usage of digital technologies (Raza et al., 2021).
Even binge-watching behavior becomes addictive to an individual. This addictive behavior isolates an individual from the real world and makes the individual immersed in the reality of the web series. A significant impact of screen time for web series with the help of OTT platforms on insomnia, depression, and anxiety. No such impact was seen with stress and loneliness (Raza et al., 2021).
A study suggests that a sense of guilt, dependability, and losing control are some of the features of negative emotions. Another research work shows us that negative emotions seen in college students were due to binge-watching web series. Lack of control, pity because of procrastination, dependence is resulted because of binge-watching (Raza et al., 2021).