Indian mental health clinic just treated its first case of ‘Netflix addiction’

Indian mental health clinic just treated its first case of ‘Netflix addiction’

  • The National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in India is treating its first patient diagnosed with ‘Netflix addiction’.
  • Like more mode of entertainment, the doctor hypothesised that Netflix serves as a method of escapism for the patient.
  • As streaming video on demand platform, Netflix is engineering to be addictive and encourages binge watching.
Binge watching shows is a tradition as old as time, regardless of whether it’s a marathon on television or consecutive episodes on streaming video on demand (SVOD) services like Netflix or Amazon Video Prime. But, how much is too much?

According to reports, the Service of Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic in India treated its first patient with ‘Netflix addiction’. The 26-year old man was admitted at the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) of being addicted to online video streaming service.

The head of SHUT clinic, Dr Manoj Kumar Sharma, hypothesized that being addicted to Netflix is a form of ‘escapism’ like most forms of entertainment. It’s less about the shows but more about wanting to shut reality out when you’re faced with the success of others.

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The first thing the patient used to do as soon as he woke up was turn on the TV. It led to extreme strain to the eyes, continuous fatigue and volatile sleeping patterns.

Addiction or the latest norm

In the past, it was addiction to the ‘idiot box’ that was the concern and now that’s transformed to an addiction to Netflix as our medium to attain content has transformed. In fact, reports suggest that 15% of downstream traffic on the Internet is due to Netflix and that 70% of its users binge watch shows.

According to the World Health Organisation, obsessive video gaming is already an addiction and it wouldn’t be surprising if Netflix addiction were to follow. What makes Netflix unique as compared plain old TV is that it’s specifically engineered to be addictive. Even the company’s CEO has been cited as saying that the company’s biggest competitor is sleep.

So while watching shows and movies on Netflix is shaping up to be an addiction, it’s also an opiate of the masses. Users on Netflix watch an excess of 2 million hours of online content per month. Nobody is alone.