Are You Still Watching ________?

by Megan Desmond
Class of 2015

The word “Netflix” bounces around the school halls, sneaking into conversations about weekend plans, reasons why students didn’t study, and general sentiments of love.

Founded in 1997, Netflix is a provider of on-demand Internet streaming media reaching all of North America and some parts of South America. In 2009 Netflix truly became a sensation when it surpassed 10 million subscribers. A recent study performed by the Leichtman Research Group found that today, 47% of all US households subscribe to Netflix, Hulu Plus, Amazon Prime or a combination of these services, Additionally the study showed that almost 50% of all households have at least one TV connected to the internet.

Netflix has become more popular for watching TV series than movies. With students’ busy lifestyles it is easier to watch a favorite show on their own time than to sit down and watch at a scheduled time every week. However, when students have access to multiple seasons of a show, or the entire series, their psychological desire for closure sets in.

Closure is the “primordial motivation or desire to achieve finality and absoluteness on an issue.” When we become attached to favorite characters, we want the finality that only season finales can provide. This leads to “binge watching” TV shows.

The average American student watches almost four hours of TV per day. With six hours of school, at least three hours of homework, and for many, two hours of sports, something must be getting cut out of the equation for this amount of TV to be seen on a daily basis.

That something is schoolwork. A 2010 report published by the Henry J. Kaiser Family foundation discussed the growing problem of displacement. Displacement is the act of replacing homework and studying with watching TV. In essence the report establishes the non-surprising truth that, “The more television students watch on school nights, the more their grades suffer.”

Netflix does not help with this problem as binge watching is now common place and the ability to stream shows on portable devices allows students to carry their addictions with them. At the conclusion of an episode, Netflix immediately begins a countdown to the next one, meaning that it is more work to stop watching than to continue.

It is not surprising that Netflix has become as popular as it is; yet, as with all good things, moderation is key. Rather than stay up all night watching the newly uploaded season of a favorite show, students should embrace the benefits that came with waiting every week for a new episode: fewer hours of TV are watched, and with less TV comes more energetic, focused, and intelligent students.

Megan Desmond is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition