BU study finds binge-watching may be influencing you

BOSTON — Many of us love grabbing the remote and binge-watching shows to unwind after a day, but researchers at Boston University found that intense viewing may be warping our view of the real world.

In a study published recently, the team at the B.U.'s Communications Research Lab spent hours watching the most commonly "binged" shows at the time, and coded them for scenes of violence.

"What we found was that these shows were incredibly violent. The violence was graphic, very significant to the plot," said study lead author Sarah Krongard.

Then researchers surveyed binge-watchers to  see how they felt about the world.

"The heavy viewers of these particular programs saw the world as much more of a mean and scary place," said Professor Mina Tsay-Vogel, the center’s co-director.


Researchers tell Boston 25 News, it’s what’s known as “mean world syndrome”, and it can have a number of impacts.

"It could be that children who are watching these really are becoming more nervous about being victimized,” said Prof. Tsay-Vogel. "We want parents to know about these potential influences."

Other concerns include becoming desensitized to violence, and modeling behaviors to exhibit real-world aggressive tendencies.

"We have control over content, but also, technology has control over us without us necessarily knowing," said Prof. Tsay-Vogel.

The research team tells Boston 25 News, they hope the study will help viewers use a more critical eye when they choose content for themselves and their family, knowing the effects of "binge-watching" could extend far past the walls of their living room.

"If we can become more aware of our relationship with media, perhaps if we recognize that we can have more control, we can harness the power of media for good," said Krongard.

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