Netflix addicts, we have some bad news for you. A study of 316 millennials by academics from the University of Texas at Austin has found that binge-watching TV shows is linked to feelings of loneliness and depression.
The researchers asked 18-29 year-olds to complete a survey on their feelings of loneliness, depression and ability to control themselves, and how often they binge-watched.
According to their findings, which will be presented to the Annual International Communication Association Conference later this year, the worse a person feels the more likely they are to watch several episodes of a TV show concurrently.
Little research had been done on the issue it is a relatively new phenomenon, with streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime only recently gaining in popularity.
"Even though some people argue that binge-watching is a harmless addiction, findings from our study suggest that binge-watching should no longer be viewed this way," researcher Yoo Hi Sung said.
When binge-watching becomes rampant, viewers may start to neglect their work and their relationships with others. Even though people know they should not, they have difficulty resisting the desire to watch episodes continuously.
Significantly, this study only found that those who binge-watch are more likely to be depressed, not that the habit causes depression. Researchers pointed out that people have previously engaged in addictive behaviours which are seen as more harmful than binge-watching to escape their loneliness and depression.