From the second you walk into the office or step on campus, you’re swamped with assignments that need to get done and a thousand different responsibilities to juggle. Sound familiar? If it does, I’m willing to bet that by the time you get home, all you really want to do is lounge on the couch and marathon yet another season of Friends. But remember the days before your Netflix subscription, when your idea of decompression was spending time with the fam? Well, you might not realize it, but new research says the effects of watching too much Netflix might be making you a little less social, especially in your relationship with dear old mom and dad. Listen, I get it: For you, being “on the grind” isn’t just a trendy phrase; it’s the life you lead 24/7, but if there’s anything in this world you should be making time for in an otherwise busy schedule, it's an hour or so of catching up with loved ones who haven’t heard from you in a while.
Personally, Netflix holds a special place in my heart because it’s actually the foundation of my relationship: Back in college, my now-husband invited me over to literally Netflix and chill one night. The problem was, he didn’t actually have Netflix, so he quickly downloaded the subscription service in the five minutes it took me to walk over to his dorm. Together we watched The Breakfast Club and sat in complete silence at opposite sides of the bed, and from there, our relationship bloomed — both with each other, and with Netflix. Fast-forward five years later, and Netflix is still very much a part of our daily routine, taking up at least two hours of our time each night — time that, TBH, both of us could probably spend calling our parents once in a while.
I’d like to think that, to a certain extent, most of us can acknowledge the fact that our free time would be better spent engaging with other people IRL instead of staring at a screen. And, to be fair, your obsession with Netflix is in no way, shape, or form the subscription service's fault. You and I have total control over our own lives, and if we choose to live said lives by letting a series like Riverdale or American Horror Story suck a few hours out of us every day, then so be it. But it is kind of disappointing when the statistics are right there in front of you and you realize, while you were too busy falling head over heels for Peter Kavinsky’s chocolate brown eyes, your parents were waiting by the phone for a call that never came.
Ouch — sorry for that guilt trip just now, but science doesn’t lie, and neither do the numbers that Chris Brantner, a certified sleep science coach and editor in chief of StreamingObserver.com, has come up with. According to Brantner’s analysis, Netflix users spend an average of one hour and 11 minutes on the streaming service every single day. That's about 434 hours — translation: 18 whole days — spent in front of the television in a single year.
Now, you might be thinking those are some pretty serious digits to just throw around, but as far as Brantner’s concerned, it’s really just simple math: In December of 2017, Netflix announced in a press release that, in the span of just one year, its users "around the world watched more than 140 million hours per day." Divide that by the 117 million accounts subscribed to Netflix in 2017, per Reuters, and that leaves one hour and 11 minutes of watch time per user. Are you shook? Because I sure am.
And, sure, on the surface, an hour of TV time really doesn’t sound that outrageous. But when you start to consider how much time you spend logging into Netflix, browsing for a show or movie (which, in and of itself, can take forever), and actually watching a program, compared to the minutes you'll spare engaging in other activities, like spending time with loved ones, exercising, and reading, that Netflix time is significant. Let's face it: You and I are living in a time when it's so easy to escape reality thanks to “instant connectivity on our TVs, phones, tablets, you name it,” Brantner tells Elite Daily over email. And watching Netflix, he says, is “one of the easiest ways to just turn off our brains and forget reality,” because it doesn’t require much effort or actual work. “We as a society are taking the path of least resistance," he explains.
It's gotten to the point where many families spend only about a half hour or so of quality time together each day, as shown in a study commissioned by the California tourism organization, Visit Anaheim. If that doesn't make you nostalgic for the years before 24-hour internet access, before texting was a line of communication, back when phones were literally just something you used to, oh, I don't know, call someone, then I don't know what will. Personally, I'm pretty obsessed with my family, so the fact that I'm only just now realizing how much time I actually don't spend checking in, is bringing me to tears. OK — maybe not tears, but my right hand is literally texting an "I love you" group message as I type this with my left.
But, again, life can get really busy, really fast, and I'm sure your family realizes that, just as their schedules fill up, so does yours. Still, Brantner says making time for one another is absolutely possible, but you have to be mentally prepared to separate yourself from any and all screens for a bit (tragic, I know). "Set specific times for family engagement," Brantner suggests, but keep screens out of the equation, he adds. This might mean shutting off the TV or deleting apps off of your phone, if you have to. Oh, and don't even think about bringing your phone to the dinner table. It's not invited.
"The goal here is to limit screen time of all types," Brantner tells Elite Daily. Prioritize family first, digital engagements second. I pinky-promise Netflix will be there when you get home.