By Olivia Sampson
You just finished your fourth episode in a row of the new Stranger Things season and you look at the clock and somehow it’s already 2 a.m. You look on your desk and you have yet to start your history paper that is due in two days or study for that exam you have in the morning, but that cliffhanger forces you into watching just one more episode. Netflix is a major addiction for many college students, myself included. When a new season of a show is released, I believe students tend to abuse the power of streaming the series all at once, which leads to loss of sleep, a decline in your health, and procrastination.
According to a new survey by LendEDU, 92 percent of college students have access to a Netflix account. Students often start by thinking they will just watch one episode after class, yet it eventually turns into three or more episodes. This is called binge-watching. One reason why binge-watching is so easy to do is because of the cliffhangers at the end of each episode. Cliffhangers produce Corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), a hormone which releases stress. When we are stressed, our body becomes more alert and we tend to want to stay awake to find out what will happen next instead of going to sleep. Loss of sleep is very damaging to our health and irregular sleep patterns can impact our learning, memory and performance in class. Teachers might take notice, which can have a negative impact on grades and our future careers.
Along with the negative side effects of loss of sleep, watching too much Netflix all at once can hurt our physical and mental health. People who sit in the same place for a significant amount of time are at a higher risk of gaining weight and thus having heart disease. It can also
lead to loneliness or depression due to the lack of control of watching a continuous amount of episodes, and the stress of not finishing work and assignments.
Because Netflix series often end in cliffhangers and automatically play the next episode, it is very easy for students to procrastinate on assignments. One of the main reasons why students procrastinate is because they lie to themselves about how much work they really have and rationalize everything in order to believe that what they are doing is fine. Rationalizing and continuing to watch Netflix leads to assignments being rushed at the last minute and as a result, poor grades. Netflix can be a positive and rewarding tool after a long day of class, but students often take advantage of the fact that you can watch numerous episodes at once and end up binge-watching, which takes up time which could be spent doing something productive.
While there are many negative effects to watching Netflix, it can also be used in a positive way. Some tips on how to avoid binge-watching are to first, use it as a reward after doing something productive. For example, if you write a page of your paper, you could reward yourself by watching an episode of a show, but just one episode. A way to make this easier is to turn off the auto-play option. This will give you more control over the situation and cause you to make a decision, instead of the streaming service making one for you. You should also try to avoid watching Netflix right before bed. Watching Netflix before bed will cut into your sleep time due to the temptation to continue to watch episodes.
In addition, Netflix is a way for college students to connect to each other. Many people watch similar shows so it can start a conversation with other fans of the same shows. It is also an easy way to debrief after a long day of school and work. According to Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project, Netflix can bring us literal happiness. Not only is it enjoyable to watch
television, but a study shows that the bright lights on the screen increase levels of serotonin in our brains, which gives us a feeling of joy.
Ultimately, nine out of ten college students watch Netflix so it plays a significant and influential role in our daily lives. Students should not indulge in it but use it in moderation which will lessen the negative consequences. I feel much enjoyment as I am watching the new season of Stranger Things, but I always regret it during my 8 a.m. the next morning when I only got 4 hours of sleep. Time management in college can be hard, especially when shows can be so addicting and mom and dad aren’t there to tell you to turn it off, but students must learn to not misuse it. If used properly, Netflix can have a positive impact and can teach you self-discipline, leading to success in the long run.