Binge-watching gained popularity with the paradigm shift in the consumption patterns of entertainment media content through streaming channels.1 This has taken watching films, series, and episodes to a new level as the traditional weekly episodic releases in TV shows are now being watched simultaneously because the whole season is made available online.2 Using these online streaming services for consuming several episodes of television shows in rapid succession is known as binge-watching.3 It has become a new global norm in the consumption of television shows1,4 and individuals have adopted it as their leisure activity.2,5
Since binge-watching has rapidly become the new standardized approach of viewing TV shows, especially among young adults,6 it is assumed that excessive engagement in binge-watching leads to problematic patterns of watching TV series and deleterious effects.7,8 Consequently, binge-watching is amongst the significant inventions in the contemporary world that creates adverse aftereffects.3,9 Several studies identified that insomnia and exhaustion are among the initial evidence of impairments associated with repetitive binge-watching.10 Other studies posited that a sedentary and unhealthy lifestyle,8 negligence of other tasks, and social relationship reduction5 are the aftereffects of binge-watching. While the persuasive nature of TV series can pose a real challenge to viewers’ self-control abilities, it does not run down the addictive impact of binge-watching as there is a common consensus in the literature that binge-watching has addictive qualities.2,11
In addition, significant psychological disorders that may have resulted in binge-watching have been reported among people during the isolation days of covid-19.7,12 People experienced visible symptoms of stress, trauma, frustration, depression, tension, hypersensitivity, attention deficit, and mood swings during this virus outbreak.13,14 An extensive literature exists to support the notion that binge-watching is a growing problematic phenomenon.3,15 The emphasis of binge-watching research has been mainly on underlying motivations,11,16 content,17,18 or the health concerns19 and involvement.20 Furthermore, the streaming channels were seen as promoting binge-watching as they kept dropping new web series during covid-19, which compelled individuals to sit and binge-watch intensively.4 Therefore, this isolation phase provided people with a perfect opportunity to engage in streaming channels like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Prime.21
To this end, researchers believe that streaming channels excessively used digital gadgets in drawing people away from real-life experiences.3 It is not an unfounded argument that an avalanche of digital entertainment now surrounds people on screens, and therefore, screen time for web series through online streaming services has become a vital fragment of modern lifestyle.5 However, recent research has identified apprehensions about the excessive digital screen time on the public’s wellbeing. For instance, studies affirmed that screen time is related to obesity,22 harmful effects on irritability23 and mental well-being.24 Although there is a rapid upsurge in binge-watching from streaming services like Hulu, Amazon Prime, Disney Plus, and Netflix, and watching online television during the COVID-19 pandemic, no prior quantitative study has been carried out to probe into the negative influences of post-binge-watching. On the other hand, a systematic review of existing literature found no conclusive evidence for a negative outcome of screen time for web series through online streaming services on the psychological well-being of individuals.25 However, limited academic research that addresses the effects of binge-watching on the mental health of individuals who become “hooked” to series/shows during the COVID-19 pandemic exists.9
Furthermore, there is evidence that during the COVID-19 isolation, screen time and digital engagements such as binge-watching have been drastically surged.7,10 Therefore, understanding the influence of excessive digital screen time for web series on the psychological well-being of individuals has become pertinent at this time, owing to its potential associations with psychological problems. Similarly, as a comparatively new phenomenon, binge-watching has yet to be comprehensively investigated.1,9 Thus, it is proper to probe into the impact binge-watching and screen time for web series through online streaming services has on individuals. Therefore, the purpose of this study is to determine the association between psychological well-being issues (eg, depression, anxiety, loneliness, and insomnia) and binge-watching. In answering this question, this study will fill the research lacuna that exists by exploring binge-watching multiple psychological and mental health effects on individuals during covid-19. Given the above prognosis, COVID-19 endures growth in digital natives; therefore, the study also taps the moderating implications of the excessive use of binge-watching (screen time) in ascending psychological issues.
Literature Review and Hypothesis Development
Binge-Watching and Depression and Anxiety
Depression and anxiety conditions are among the significant common disorders in people. People with symptoms of depression frequently have attributes of anxiety conditions.7 While people with anxiety disarrays usually reported depression.26 Scholars delineated that both conditions may ensue simultaneously. Depression and anxiety are related to substantively augmented poor psychological well-being outcomes. The World Health Organization also categorized depression as the prominent global poor psychological well-being issue.27 Recent studies noted that regardless of the social media usage benefits, its excessive usage stands as one of the common reasons for the substantive increase in depression and anxiety.28,29 There is abundant literature affirming the association of both depression and anxiety with social media use. For example, studies noted that digital engagements have replaced face-to-face social relations and can adversely influence psychological well-being.30 Thus, studies have identified that depression and anxiety are common in individuals who excessively consume social media.10,29
It is, therefore, no gainsaying that the release of web series at once has promoted the binge-watching that boosts excessive exposure. Correspondingly, excessive disclosure to well-curated, impractical depictions on digital platforms (eg, web series) may give individuals the imprint that others are more contented, making them feel depressed due to social isolation contrast.31 Steins-Loeber et al15 described binge-watching depression as a “widely acknowledged non-clinical term for feeling down after finishing a series or a film and is surprisingly common. Furthermore, various studies have suggested depressive symptoms parallel with the post-binge-watching phenomenon.3,15,32,33 For instance, Kottasz et al33 measured the “post-series depression” phenomenon and described it as a feeling of longing and melancholy after consuming all the series. Evidence from literature15 plausibly indicates that binge-watching can intensify depression and anxiety among people. Hence, this study aims to develop an understanding of whether excessive involvement with binge-watching results in possible depressive symptoms and therefore, we hypothesize that;
H1. Binge-watching influences the feeling of depression and anxiety in an individual.
Binge-Watching and Stress
Psychological stress is any modification that causes affective, mental, or psychosomatic stress.34,35 Research has categorized indications of stress in three major categories: (1) psychological, (2) emotional, and (3) behavioral.34 Few usual indications of stress involve; (1) mood switching, (2) experiencing restlessness, (3) disruption in asleep, (4) being angry, (5) poor self-care, and (6)…
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