Is binge watching an addiction

Bingewatching study Why serial addiction can hit anyone

Addiction, entry, drugs - anyone who talks to the scientist Claus-Peter Ernst about the phenomenon of bingewatching hears these terms very often. That sounds dramatic and either calls for regulation or at least public discussion. Or is it just a phenomenon that everyone has to fight out with themselves, partners or children?

Professor Dr. Claus-Peter Ernst, who teaches and researches at the Frankfurt University of Applied Sciences, does not: "I see it as the responsibility of friends and family to be attentive to one another. And if you have the feeling that someone is consuming too much, that you approach people, do not appear reproachful, but help and support. "

But can one even call drug addiction in the same breath as serial addiction? The addiction to series works in a similar way: if you can't consume them, you get in a bad mood, you need more all the time, you can't stop and accept that you will annoy the environment. What is the difference between binge-watching addiction and "classic" drug addiction?

When I'm addicted to cocaine or marijuana, I have more trouble getting hold of those drugs. I have to know where to get it, I have to raise the money and get the things. For a TV series addiction, I only have to invest 9.99 euros for a streaming subscription and have more of the drug than I can realistically consume in a month.

Prof. Dr. Claus-Peter Ernst

For him, this is what constitutes the major problem with this "new drug": easy, almost unlimited access. A restriction or turning off the addictive substance is hardly possible for friends or relatives, believes Ernst. Do series that target young people already offer introductions to addictive behavior? Not necessarily, says the researcher. The decisive factor is the behavior of the parents: "If, as a young person, I do not experience any restrictions or if it is normal for me to do something without restrictions, it becomes all the more difficult to get used to this practiced behavior later."

In the Duden, the term has not yet made it, in contrast to "binge drinking", as a synonym for the colloquial language "binge drinking" or binge drinking. In science, binge-watching is used when three, four or more episodes of a series are consumed in a row in a screen session.

Bingewatching can be addicting to any serial viewer if ...

There is a lot of discussion about the "Komaglotzen": Is it actually or simply a "type of self-determined consumption of the woken up coach potatoes", as it is called in a study by the streaming provider Netflix, which based on its access numbers as "the new." Normal "explained. In the end, can it even be compared with the "Phenomenon" book? After all, the term "bookworm" for frequent readers is as derogatory as "serial junkie". And who is actually prone to the addiction to the marathon-like series sessions? Professor Claus-Peter Ernst has highlighted this in two online studies: He was looking for a connection between large or small self-esteem and binge-watching of reality series, as well as the connection of bingewatchers to the series characters. Result: The addiction to the series marathon can affect self-confident people as well as insecure people.

Only their motives are different: self-confident people become dependent because they are looking for a sense of belonging - with characters from series who are out and about in similar worlds as they do, or outside their sphere of experience, such as in "House of Cards", where a politician is with semi-legal means to power: interesting characters to whom one feels drawn. On the other hand, Ernst says people with low self-esteem look to reality TV for people who are worse off than themselves in order to feel better about themselves - a satisfying feeling that can also be addicting.

What makes switching off so difficult?

In both cases, serial heroes guarantee permanent fulfillment of the deeply human need to belong. Ernst illustrates this using the example of "Lindenstrasse" with its figure cabinet that has remained constant for decades: "As a viewer, you can definitely take part in the lives of fictional people and their fictional lives; you saw them grow up as small children, today they have a job." Such media also fuel addictive behavior, for example, when you change your place of residence and the social environment is no longer tangible: "Then television can in a certain way close this gap that has opened up for you". If you look closely, series characters satisfy the longing for belonging more often than friends or family - and when and for as long as you want: That makes switching off so difficult.

Tools for switching off - necessary or useless?

Whether interspersed hints in between could slow down the series binge watching? For example "You've been looking for four hours now. Would you like some fresh air?"Or could regulations by the streaming accounts help by showing only a limited number of episodes per day? Ernst does not believe in the effect of drastic indications of possible addiction dangers or consequences such as on cigarette packs. Before science can research whether or how The researcher believes that something like this could have an entirely different effect: Society must decide whether it wants to (oppose) the previously private phenomenon outside of the living room.