Netflix and Chill(ing) Addictions: students assess impact of binge-streaming

Netflix has infiltrated the lives of most college students, providing us with a distracting study buddy, a demanding lunch date and an often too-time-consuming relationship.

One too many times, I’ve locked eyes with myself in the background of the judgmental “Are you still watching?” screen. In those moments I’ve wondered what the real world smells like, and I have since decided my life would be better off with a little less Netflix, opting instead for more productive distractions, like reading and gossiping.

Now the most popular streaming platform for watching television, Netflix, surpasses that of cable and other subscription-video services such as Hulu and HBO, according to a recent survey of U.S. consumers by Wall Street firm Cowen & Co.

For many students, Netflix can be a testament to their time management skills, a healthy break for some.

“Netflix only wastes my time when I have time to waste,” senior Kelsey Stevenson said. “When I’m super busy and don’t have time to watch Netflix, I don’t. But when I have free time, I can spend hours on end binging Netflix.”

The streaming platform is practically made to binge, making it more difficult for others to resist the temptation. According to a YouGov survey, 68 percent of millennials prefer full-season TV show releases, prompting entertainment in excess and creating a disconnection between watchers and the real world.

Netflix might not cause a student to forgo a task altogether, but it can be a speed bump.

“I’ll just overcompensate by spending longer studying for something with Netflix in the background instead of spending a shorter amount of time completely focused,” sophomore Mike Stoddard said.

Stoddard also said that the platform has caused him to procrastinate homework and working out, which many students have been guilty of at some point.

Though Netflix is certainly not the only means of procrastination, it sets itself apart by being the most used. According to a Variety article, nearly 40 percent of adults between the ages of 18-34 said that Netflix is their most commonly used platform for viewing content, even ahead of YouTube, cable, Hulu and broadcast TV.

Once upon a time, our parents warned us that TV would rot our brains. While Netflix includes educational programming, such as documentaries and other infotainment, its mindless shows seem to be its greatest appeal to the public.

“I don’t think that Netflix necessarily rots your brain,” Stevenson said. “Netflix is just a platform to watch TV. If not Netflix, then it’s HBO or whatever else.”

Simply put, the streaming platform is a resource for all of your television-watching and movie-viewing needs, but does the luxury of options and excess come at a cost? During an age when discipline and efficiency are still developing, are we being negligent by creating such a proficient time-wasting habit?

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