Debrief Staff | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 3 December 2015

Binge-Watching TV In Your Twenties Could Make You Less Intelligent

Binge-Watching TV In Your Twenties Could Make You Less Intelligent

The Debrief: Netflix and Chill? More like Netflix and Kill (Your Brain)

Binge-watching TV shows, aka one of our favourite things to do on the planet, is apparently bad for us. Why can’t we have nice things? 

A new study published in JAMA Psychiatry this week shows that young adults who watch a lot of TV and have a low level of physical activity have worse cognitive functions when they hit middle age. 

The 25-year study measured brain activity in people aged 18-30 and had them fill in questionanires about their television viewing. The adults were then checked up on in five-year increments. Of the 3,247 subjects, those who watched TV for more than three hours a day for more than two-thirds of the check-ins were categorised as having a ‘high’ amount of television viewing. 

At the end of the study, the volunteers were given three cognitive tests. One to assess processing speed, and how quickly you can carry out cognitive tasks; the second examined how a person can manage time and resources to achieve a goal; while the third assessed verbal memory and recalling skills. 

The study found that those who watched the most TV were twice as likely to perform well on the first two tests. But, their verbal memory was not impacted. 

Before you get too freaked about the fact that TV could make you less intelligent, our viewing habits have totally changed since the study was carried out. With online streaming and Netflix, you might spend a week devouring a show, then go weeks without watching TV.  

And the poor results only occured in those who weren’t physically active – so it’s being a coach potato that impacts brain function more than TV itself. 

Although a study into how constant phone usage now affects our brains would be pretty interesting...

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Follow Lauren on Twitter @laurenjsmith