Netflix: The Good, The Bad, The Addictive

Category:  News
Thursday, March 24th, 2016 at 8:33 AM
Netflix: The Good, The Bad, The Addictive by Macala Leigey

It’s 1 a.m. You look at the stack of assignments laying on your desk — one paper due tomorrow, three chapters to read, and a test to study for — yet in front of you a Netflix timer counts down the seconds before the next episode. 3..2..1..It’s only one more episode.

In an era where the term “binge watch” has entered the pop lexicon, Netflix, along with other online video streaming services — Hulu, HBO Now, Amazon Prime — has become an escape for the average college student. The various video streaming services give customers access to countless television shows and movies for considerably reasonable prices, with Netflix starting at $7.99 a month.

However, no matter the price, these trending video streaming services have both positive and negative influences on the college student demographic.

“I think in a way, what’s happening is really in large measure positive, opening the world up wider for more social possibilities,” Chairperson of Edinboro University’s Sociology Department Dr. Lee Williams said.

In this positive sense, Netflix offers students an escape from their busy academic lives and serves as a form of relaxation.

“I watch it because it gives me something else to do besides homework, and it’s nice to relax a little,” Edinboro University student Brittany Calladine said.

Assistant Chairperson of the Psychology Department Dr. Michael Skelly added to Calladine’s statement by saying, “It’s good for your brain to take a break sometimes. You shouldn’t study all the time.”

Netflix and other video streaming services also promote the positive aspect of social engagement.

“It connects people who watch and share similar things. It allows for a wider possible connection with people,” Williams said.

From a student perspective, secondary education history and special education major Payton Lundel said, “I think it’s [Netflix] a positive because it gives you something to talk about with somebody else. Like if you guys are watching the same show it’s a good conversation starter.”

In contrast, the popular video streaming services also impact students in a negative way. Binge watching often leads to late nights of finishing season three, instead of finishing page three of a research paper. Lack of sleep leads to a lack of focus during class, which slowly adds up, or in better terms, can subtract from students’ GPAs.

“If some of that binge watching might be spent on binge homework doing, it might not be a bad thing. I think there’s some danger of getting a bit of tunnel vision. The possibilities of delimiting yourself can be very real,” Williams said.

In the psychological sense, Skelly mentioned that limiting the brain by engaging in a repetitive activity, such as watching Netflix, will actually harm the brain in the long run.

“You’re limiting your brain’s experience with new things [by constantly watching Netflix], and the brain thrives off of new things. It will help your brain stay younger throughout your lifetime if you continue to develop new hobbies.”

Lundell acknowledged the effect Netflix can have on students’ GPAs, by saying, “I think because it’s on the automatic loop, if you’re watching a show it will just automatically play the next one, so then you completely lose track of time. And you’re like ‘I have a test tomorrow. I should be studying.’ So I think it’ll affect your grades sometimes.”

Chairperson of the Health and Physical Education Department Dr. Laura Miller mentioned that online video streaming services also negatively affect students’ sleeping patterns.

“Disturbed sleep patterns is another real problem. Research has shown over and over in the last few years that use of electronic light actually stimulates your brain to be alert. It’s [the electronic light] going to prolong the ability for you to get sleep [and] physically that’s going to affect you.”

In a recent survey conducted by The Spectator via social media, 44 percent of college students responded that they believe Netflix does affect their GPA, while 56 percent say that the video streaming service does not have a direct impact.

Additionally, 70 percent of the students who participated in the survey confirmed that their GPA is between a 3.5 and 4.0.

“From my perspective, it would hurt your academics if you’re staying out of balance. If the balance between play and work is too far in either direction you’re not going to be optimal,” Skelly said.

While time management may be key in preventing Netflix from affecting college students’ academic success, it still doesn’t change how addictive the online video service can be.

“Certainty for a lot of people, television and movie watching can be kind of addictive. You can lose a lot of hours of your life once you start watching the series that you’re into,” Miller said.

Skelly added to Miller’s statement by providing a psychological insight of how the brain functions when performing a continuous action, stating, “Without change the brain adapts. When the brain adapts, the neurons quit firing, and you just ignore it. The brain’s attracted to change, it’s attracted to stimulation, and if you’re not changing and stimulating yourself enough the brain becomes complacent and you will lose functioning.”

To avoid this state of complacent brain activity and becoming completely addicted to Netflix, Skelly mentioned that change is key in keeping the cognitive activity of the brain functioning, as well as the mood aspect of the mind.

“It’s bad to just keep doing the same thing every time. It’s better for you if you change things up. It can start affecting your mood to a level. If you’re watching Netflix in the same environment all the time and on the same screen, you’re boring your brain.”

Lundell suggested that students set a limit of how much they watch. “If you say you’re gonna watch one episode, just watch one episode.”

Miller advised students to keep a calendar or a to-do list in order to easily “prioritize” what tasks they need to accomplish, which, in the long run, will aid students in efficiently managing their study time and recreational time.

“You’re responsible for what you do. You have to get done what you have to get done, it’s part of being a grown up.”

In addition to limiting one’s Netflix intake, college students may want to avoid the top three most addicting shows available on Netflix, “Parks and Recreation,” “Orange is the New Black” and “The Office.”

While Netflix and other video streaming services may have no real impact on college students’ academic status, unless self-inflicted, they do have a variety of pros and cons.

So before logging on and feeding your latest Netflix series addiction, make sure when you say “it’s only one more episode,” your research paper is written, because “one more” is never just one more.

Macala Leigey is the News Editor for The Spectator and she can be reached at

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