By Michelle Lampariello
Netflix and other streaming services are a constant in the life of nearly every college student. The concept of unlimited movies and TV shows is enticing, but it is this limitlessness that causes streaming services to take up so much of our busy lives.
While using streaming services in moderation is healthy, college students often use them too heavily. Binge watching and addiction to streaming services is preventing many college students from having a healthy social life.
Addiction to Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime and other streaming services often prevent people from making plans with friends. Many students would rather click “next episode” than walk down the hall to see their friends.
Some students will say in a tongue-in-cheek way that their plans for the night are to watch Netflix and stay in bed. While this statement used to render judgement from their peers, it is now considered a normal way to spend the night.
Especially in a college setting, Netflix causes people to shut their doors, put their headphones on and not talk to their friends. Streaming services establish the norm that if you have nothing to do, you should watch an episode of a TV show instead of see a friend.
I do agree that nights in are often much needed. A night in, however, does not mean that students should default to watching TV or a movie. There are plenty of other ways to spend a night in that do not feed into addictive binge watching.
Spending multiple nights a week falling asleep to Netflix, as I know many of my friends do, is not healthy. Instead of having social interactions with housemates or roommates, students often cannot control the urge to watch their favorite show.
I noticed during my first semester at the College that students often turned to streaming services as a source of comfort. Not only did watching a familiar show soothe homesickness, but it eliminated loneliness.
While streaming services can be used in moderation to help students adjust to a new setting, it often ends up hindering more than helping. At first, it is OK to spend some free time watching a show in order to cope with a new schedule and new setting. As time goes on, however, addiction to streaming services starts to get in the way of possible outings or gatherings with friends.
In order to avoid falling into this trap, I do my best to limit how much time I spend using streaming services while I am at school. While I do use Netflix more heavily while I am home on breaks, I spend less than one hour a week on streaming services when I’m at the College.
I find that this helps me avoid staying in my room alone. Not only does it promote me to have a healthier social life, but it also helps me stay productive academically.
During my first semester, I occasionally watched an episode of “Scrubs” as I was adjusting to my new environment. It helped me feel less homesick and eliminated some of the stress that I had as I tried to figure out a routine.
But now, I am happy with the Netflix limits that I set for myself. If more students weaned themselves off of streaming services, they would see improvements in all aspects of their life, but especially in their social lives.
Next time, try to knock on a friend’s door instead of clicking “next episode.” I promise you’ll have more fun.