Are you addicted to television series?

If it is tremendously difficult to eat a single potato chip or cookie, something similar happens to us. Although we intend to see only one chapter before going to sleep, it is not uncommon to chain it with a second, a third or even some more. A psychologist explains what mechanisms push us to do so.

The wide range of television series, with options for all tastes, makes the sofa and series plans very appealing and engaging.

“We usually do a first search for series that are related to our interests and desires. In general, when we watch a television serial we want to disconnect from reality and, for a moment, we get into the role of one of the characters, ”says Macarena del Cojo, specialist at the Cláritas Psychological Institute.

The psychologist points out that leisure habits changed due to the pandemic.

“Being at home for so long, we look for ways to entertain ourselves. Among them were the consumption of movies and series on digital platforms, since there was hardly any entertainment programming on television, ”he says.

Once we start watching a series, we don’t usually stop at the first chapter and leave the next one for later. The most common is that we see the second one below or, even, some more, so that the season lasts only a few days.

In this sense, Macarena del Cojo points out: “Each chapter shows us a plot that remains incomplete, so that, when each one of them ends, we are left with uncertainty and the psychological need to know what is going to happen.”

“This occurs due to the ‘law of closure’, which refers to a psychological norm by which our brain tends to complete the missing stimuli looking for the best possible organization. Thus, if we have access to the rest of the chapters, we will have the need to see them to complete the whole ”, he emphasizes.

In addition, the fact that the next chapter starts automatically, unless we stop it, causes us to chain one with another.

Impact on memory

In this sense, the psychologist points out that the marathon of a series has certain effects on memory.

“Receiving so much information of interest in such a short time hinders the processes to store it properly and be able to retrieve it later. That is to say, if we see a series of coups, later we will have problems to remember certain details ”, he indicates.

“On the other hand, the fact that there is a space between chapter and chapter to be able to comment on it and reflect on it, makes long-term memory more solid,” he values.

“The effect of series marathons on memory was experienced in several studies. It was found that, in the groups that had spaced the frequency with which they watched the chapters, the memories were consolidated over time, so that months later they remembered more details than the groups that had done a marathon ”, he adds.

Likewise, the specialist emphasizes that watching a series for several hours in a row without being able to stop can even lead to an addiction problem.

“Normally, addiction to series influences work and social relationships, which are increasingly neglected, since a large part of the day is dedicated to the consumption of this material,” he points out.

In addition, the psychologist warns that the time in which we usually watch the series can also be harmful.

“If we are used to seeing them at night, being exposed to the light of the screen for so long means that we do not generate melatonin, which is the hormone responsible for sleep, so we will have difficulty sleeping. Insomnia problems carry a greater risk of suffering from depression, because there is an increase in the level of stress due to lack of rest ”, he warns.

Some suggestions

On the other hand, once we have finished watching a series that we like, we can experience a certain feeling of regret.

Macarena del Cojo explains that when we watch a series, our dopamine levels increase, which translates into well-being and pleasure.

“In this way, at the end, we can feel an emptiness because that which generated well-being and happiness has disappeared,” says the specialist.

However, the platforms save data about our preferences, so that every time we look for a new series they will suggest us those that are similar in genre or plot to those we have seen previously.

“This contributes to the fact that every time we finish a series we have to see a new one to recover dopamine levels, which can lead to addiction,” he insists.

In spite of everything, watching a series is a very rewarding leisure activity that does not have to be a problem. In fact, Macarena del Cojo offers us several recommendations to enjoy the series in a healthy way:

First of all, he advises to space out the frequency with which we watch the chapters. “We can see a chapter a day, although the ideal would be one a week,” he recommends.

In the same way, it indicates that we would have to let some time pass from when we finish watching one series until we start watching another. “In this way we can process the previous one properly and thus we will not contribute to suffering a possible addiction. In other words, we must accept the end of the series with all the emotions that this entails ”, he highlights.

Finally, the psychologist recommends that we try not to see the series just before going to sleep. “We must leave a time between the end of the chapter and the moment of the dream so that it is not altered,” he concludes.

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Are you addicted to television series?