The health consequences of a night with Netflix

The occasional Netflix binge can be cathartic for many, yet a number of long-term disadvantages may convince faithful viewers to reconsider the amount of time spent in front of a screen. 

Despite the emergence of various streaming options such as Redbox, Hulu Plus and Amazon Prime, Netflix is among the most popular due to its universal accessibility and rapidly growing collection. 

Since going public in 2002, Netflix has gained more than 48 million subscribers worldwide and boasts that its users enjoy more than one billion hours of television-and movie-streaming a month. But like anything consumed in excess, streaming services like Netflix have their drawbacks. 

It’s relatively easy to overindulge on Netflix, making it all the more important for viewers to limit themselves. Subscribers don’t need to wait to enjoy the next episode, and at the end of each one, a taunting 14-second countdown to the next installment keeps them watching. In this way, a 30-minute Netflix break can unintentionally escalate to a three-hour marathon. 

As reported in a recent NBC News article, a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association found watching television over an extensive period of time is threatening to health, following reports indicating the health consequences of too much sitting. 

Though correlation is not causation, the effects of watching too much television can be extreme, as demonstrated in the study. The participants who watched three or more hours of television per day rather than one were more prone to dying from heart disease or stroke. 

Also, as cited in the article, sitting and watching television is worse for one’s metabolism than sitting without an activity. One New York Times columnist claims that “staring into space” is a better use of time. Viewers must be wary of the repercussions of surrendering to the temptations of unlimited streaming. 

Because of this, Netflix can be either an oasis for college students after a long week of studying or a distraction from anything else they ought to be doing. Watching television is considered a more “passive activity” than driving or working on a computer, as New York University cardiologist Dr. Nieca Goldberg told NBC News. 

If one continues to indulge in this dangerous habit, even proper diet and exercise are unlikely to make a profound difference on the state of one’s overall health. Research by Dr. James Levine of the Mayo Clinic found long bouts of sitting could lead to a rise in the body’s fat and cholesterol and a lower metabolism regardless of how much one has exercised to make up for it. 

Undoubtedly, Netflix has a variety of factors at work to persuade viewers to stay for just one more episode, from a series’ mounting suspense to being able to discuss a hit show with friends. 

Like other streaming services, it uses ratings and viewer history to tailor its suggestions to the user’s preferences, and it doesn’t hurt that these suggestions are surprisingly accurate. 

All of these reasons make it more difficult to tear away from the screen when the time comes. However tough it may be, viewers should challenge themselves to take a Netflix detox every now and then for the benefit of their well-being. 

Grace Korley is a junior majoring in English.