Now that you’ve probably finished burning through all 13 episodes of Jessica Jones, you’ll want to celebrate with a shot of whiskey and then cringe at this ugly news: Your binge watching habits might come back to bite you in the long run.
Right, right, screens are sleep-ruiners. But it's not about the blue light. New research from the Northern California Institute for Research Education at the University of California, San Francisco is being hailed as the first to link young adults’ TV-watching habits to mental decline once they hit middle age. Researchers observed a study following more than 3,200 men and women over the course of 25 years (the average age was 25 years old when the study began). Those who reported watching TV for more than three hours per day, and displayed low physical activity, were assessed to have weaker cognitive function by the end of the study.
What defines cognitive function, exactly? Participants were given assessments that observed their ability to learn and process new information. Those who made TV an essential part of their daily routine over the course of 25 years expressed, on average, lower cognitive function than those who didn’t. And if the TV viewers didn’t exercise much either, then it was twice as likely they would have lower cognitive function.
Like we’ve seen in previous studies, this research confirms that exercise plays a critical role in the development of neurogenesis. Less clear, though, is the binge watching side of things. For example, how does TV-watching differ from other sedentary activities, such as sitting in front of a computer or playing video games?
Regardless, you might want to cut back on your Netflix consumption. Yes, we're living in the golden age of television. But excessive watching could lead us into an era of decline.