Binge-Watching Television Causes Cognitive Decline, Study Finds

Binge-watching shows on Netflix or spending hours watching back-to-back episodes on another streaming service regularly may seem fun for the brain but it is actually causing a whole lot of damage.

A new study which has been published in the Scientific Reports journal says that spending hours on end watching television can have detrimental effects on your cognitive abilities.

What Does This Study Reveal?

Looks like it’s time for you to limit your eyes to the exposure of television because of the way it triggers cognitive decline. This new research came to the conclusion that binge-watching TV has a negative impact on the brain by examining the data of 3662 adults from the English Longitudinal Study of Aging who were 50 years in age or older.

Participants of the study noted down the amount of time they spent watching TV every day. Their reasoning and thinking capabilities were also analyzed throughout. First, researchers looked at the number of hours TV was watched in 2008-09 and then, after 6 years, they measured the memory and language of participants in 2014-15.

It was found that those who engaged in more 3.5 hours of daily TV watching experienced higher levels of cognitive decline in verbal memory regardless of their status, and health. Those who watched TV for less than 3.5 hours, experienced a 4% to 5% decline on average while those who watched television for a greater number of hours than this, experienced a decline of 8% to 10% on average.

How Can Watching Television Negatively Impact Cognition?

Researchers suggest that television lowers cognitive health because it doesn’t encourage an interaction. For instance, when you play video games or carry out online research, your brain interacts with this information. But this doesn’t happen in the case of watching television.

Moreover, stressful content on TV can cause stress which also shares a link with cognitive impairment. Moreover, binge-watching TV regardless of the device used also promotes sitting for long hours which can have unhealthy effects. Note that excessive screen time can also damage vision among other issues.

A previous study conducted by Hiraku Takeuchi on 276 kids deduced that more time spent on television had negative long-term impacts. As per this study, the more time children were glued the TV, the parts of their brain which were associated to higher arousal and aggression became thicker.

This shows that regardless of one’s age, too much TV can be damaging. Researchers of this study suggest that it better to spend time by solving puzzles, playing board games, engaging in physical activity, and reading books.


A study carried out on the data collected from more than 3000 adults concludes that binge-watching television is bad for cognition. It can result in higher cognitive decline. It can particularly lower one’s memory and language skills eventually. This stamps on the need to reduce our screen time and engage in better activities that challenge the brain or keep us moving our limbs.