How do you know if your TV habits are a problem – and what to do about it?
The word “self-control” was a contender for the Oxford English Dictionary 2013. Although it did not win (“selfie” eventually took the crown), this points to a rise in what used to be a popular viewing of several episodes of a TV show at one time.
Today, millions of us – including me – regularly use our favorite series in this way. The proliferation of broadcasting services in recent years has made it much easier to do. Surprisingly, during the closure of COVID, research shows that many of us spend more time watching than usual.
But can watching too much be a problem or an addiction? And if you can’t get rid of them, what can you do?
The problem with overindulgence in entertainment is not defined by the number of episodes viewed (although most researchers agree that at least two in a row),. Like other addictive behaviors, most importantly, overindulgence hurts other aspects of one’s health.
Over the years I have studied addiction, I have argued that all addictive behaviors comprise six key components. In terms of watching too much, this could mean:
Overeating is the most important thing in a person’s life (intelligence)
A person engages in watching too much as a way to change how he or she feels responsibly: to feel better in the short term or to temporarily avoid something negative in his or her life (change attitudes)
Obsessive compulsion damages important aspects of a person’s health such as a relationship with education or work (conflict)
The amount of time a person spends focusing on watching each day has increased dramatically over time (tolerance)
A person develops mental and/or physical withdrawal symptoms if they are not able to watch a lot (withdrawal)
When a person can pause for a relaxed view, when he does the activity again, he goes right back to the previous cycle (going back).
In my opinion, anyone who completes these six sections can be very addicted. A person who achieves only one of these may display a problem with self-indulgence, but he will not be classified as addicted in my terms.
Like many other addictive behaviors, such as sexual addiction, work addiction, and exercise, addiction is not officially recognized in any psychiatric textbook. And we do not have an accurate measure of the frequency of overindulgence. But research on this condition is growing.
Looking for evidence
In a recent study on this topic, a team of researchers in Poland conducted a survey of 645 adults, all of whom reported that they had watched at least two episodes of one show at a time. Researchers wanted to understand some of the causes of the problem of gluttony.
The authors (based on their commentary on the problem-solving part of my addiction model) used a list of questions they had done in previous research to evaluate self-indulgent viewing that was a problem among participants.
Points above a certain limit were taken as an indication of the problem of overindulgence.
Using a list of other scales, the researchers found that difficulty in controlling pressure, lack of advance planning (difficulty planning and evaluating the results of a given behavior), watching escape and forgetting problems, and watching to avoid loneliness were among the many. important predictions of the problem of overeating.
Using the same data, the researchers reported in a previous study that problematic overeating had a significant association with depressive disorder. As the symptoms of anxiety and depression increased, it became more and more difficult to watch one indulge in self-indulgence.
There is a growing body of evidence about the psychology of excessive observation. Dragon Images / Shutterstock
Other studies have reported similar findings. A study by Taiwanese adults, for example, found that binge drinking was linked to depression, social anxiety, and loneliness.
An American study found that behavior was associated with stress and anxiety attached. Numerous related studies – such as this one from Portugal – have also shown escapism as an important motivator for a relaxed and glamorous look.
In terms of personality traits, studies have shown that problematic overeating appears to be associated with a low conscience (characterized by aggression, apathy, and disorder) and high-level neuroticism (characterized by anxiety and a tendency to have negative emotions). We see these kinds of associations in addictive behavior in general.
Breaking free from this habit
If you want to reduce the number of episodes you watch at one time, my main rule is to stop watching the episode in the middle. It’s really hard to stop watching at the end of an episode as most of the time the program ends up hanging on a cliff.
And I suggest setting realistic daily limits. For me, 2.5 hours if I work the next day, or five hours if I don’t work. And just start looking at it as a reward for yourself after doing everything you need about work and community obligations.
Remember, the difference between a healthy zeal and an addiction is that the first one adds to your life, while the last one consumes it. If you feel that overindulgence is taking over your life, you should seek a referral to your doctor so that you can see a psychiatrist. Many drugs are symptoms of other underlying problems.