With the availability of newer technology and instant video streaming services increasing, TV binge-watching has become a cultural phenomenon. In fact, binge-watching is significantly associated with TV addiction and other negative mental health effects, according to new research released today at the American Public Health Association’s 143rd Annual Meeting in Chicago.

Through an online survey of more than 400 North American adults, researchers from the University of Toledo found that 77 percent of all participants reported watching TV for two or more consecutive hours on average per day. When asked if they would classify their TV viewing habits as binging, 35 percent of all participants identified as binge-watchers, meaning they spent significantly more than two consecutive hours watching TV per day.

The self-identified binge-watchers reported higher addiction to TV than those who did not identify as binge-watchers. They also reported experiencing some negative mental health effects, including higher levels of depression, anxiety and sleep disturbances.

“Unaware of the negative health effects of longer screen time, the general public is being unwittingly exposed to advertisements that encourage this behavior,” Karmakar said. “A study of this nature will create awareness about the issue and help individuals make better and more informed decisions regarding their health.”