Those who binge-watch TV are probably lonely and depressed, according to science. That and other obvious facts—like “those who lacked the ability to control themselves were more likely to binge-watch”—come from a new study conducted at the University of Texas at Austin, where a group of researchers surveyed more than 300 18-to-29-year-olds to determine their binge-watching habits. Researchers Yoon Hi Sung, Eun Yeon Kang, and Wei-Na are set to present the total of their findings at a conference later this May, but an early preview on EurekAlert says they found that participants used binge-watching to “move away from negative feelings,” and that they were “unable to stop clicking ‘Next’ even when they were aware that they had other tasks to complete.” Those findings can be corroborated by anyone who has ever watched television.
The study further suggests that binge-watching isn’t a harmless pastime, but rather a potentially dangerous addictive behavior. Sung, ruiner of fun, explains:
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. Physical fatigue and problems such as obesity and other health problems are related to binge-watching and they are a cause for concern. 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. Our research is a step toward exploring binge-watching as an important media and social phenomenon.
Those who have sunk into a deep depression upon reading this study should remember that, although they are experiencing a sudden desire to stare at Kevin Spacey’s face for hours on end, that will only make matters worse in the long run. Thankfully, we at The A.V. Club have no understanding of this phenomenon, as our own binge-watching is purely professional, and certainly never used to distract us from the stifling existential panic we experience after a long day of writing meaningless, ephemeral jokes on the Internet.