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India's NIMHANS just got its first case of 'Netflix addiction', and it calls for a need to take a break

As goes the case with most other addictions, including social media, smart devices, it's time to take a step back and focus on a balanced life.

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A key difference between the ’80s kids and new age teens is the absence of the idiot box in their homes. Times have changed. We turned the idiot box into a smart box. Our TVs have turned smart. It’s a black hole that sucks away time. It’s our outlet from an otherwise lame and dilapidated world of politics and political news. The avenue left to relax, unwind and be engrossed in an engaging time is none other than the smart slim ‘idiot box.’

Netflix addiction?

According to a report by The Hindu, India’s National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) has just received a case of what it calls ‘Netflix addiction.’ The case is of an unemployed 24-year-old, who shut himself at home, and was hooked on to Netflix for six months. Such cases of addiction, like any other including gaming, pornography, chatting, social media, smart devices and others ride on factors driven by psychosocial and environmental conditions.

According to Maureen Boyle, Public Health Advisor and Director at the National Institute of Drug Abuse (quoted by LiveScience) addiction is a biopsychosocial disorder. She attributes it to a combination of your genetic makeup, your neurobiology, and how these factors interact with psychological and social triggers. When put into perspective, it does answer why many consume liquor in social gatherings, which they very comfortably refer to as social drinking. Yet some quickly get latched on, and go on to become alcoholics. While some frown upon it, others get hooked on to work, and are called workaholics. But the difference is the positive attributes of discipline and productivity referred to in society. In a way, it’s good to be working hard. In reality though, addictions are addictions, nonetheless.

Just like Netflix, it could be Amazon Prime Video, or Hotstar!

Although the report refers to the term as Netflix addiction, in reality, it’s an all-engulfing term that refers to the obsessive need to sit through and watch through TV content. We laugh it off as ‘binge-watching’ like binging on choco-chip cookies. How can that ever be bad, right? I mean sitting on your couch for hours, engrossed in rich, immersive storytelling didn’t harm anyone, right? That’s fundamentally, what experts call out as an addiction.

Does the world around you stop when you stream?

Imagine watching your favorite TV series or movie on your favorite streaming service. And there’s a sudden fire drill in your residential area. What would you do? You know it’s a fire drill. It’s not the real thing. You might choose to ignore and continue watching. It indicates the reality in your mind, of switching off from something that’s critical, far important as preparation for an emergency. Your mind finds a way to rationalize your decision. You will find your ‘logical argument’ to justify your reason to binge watch.

Take a break

As goes the case with most other addictions, including social media, smart devices, it’s time to take a step back and focus on a balanced life. While we may lead busy lives, there’s need to break away from our desk routine and get some exercise, balance it out with some non-screen time. Doctors advice that we take a break from our screens every 30 minutes, preferably blink our eyes, give it some exercise by focusing at distant objects to relieve it from the strain of staring at our screens.

Most of us work on computers, and the rest of our time, are lost in our smartphones staring at another screen, of another size. The perils and harm still the same. Bright light falling on our retina and hampering our circadian rhythm. Over the course of time, the impact could move beyond just eye strain, sleep cycles, but impact our immune system. Experts have linked sleep deprivation with reduced immunity. So the next time you find yourself affected by cold and flu, just ask yourself, “Have I been binge-watching too much?”

  • Published Date: October 9, 2018 11:07 AM IST