Recently, I decided to breakup with Netflix. For me, it had begun to feel like a souring relationship or an unfulfilling habit. As a family and teen therapist in the Washington DC and Bethesda areas, I often talk with teenagers about improper and proper usage of Netflix during counseling sessions. We discuss how much is too much Netflix viewing? We consider whether it causes them to lose sleep, avoid homework, isolate in their rooms, indulge in too much junk food, or just have fun and relax. We also lament over how much we love our particular Netflix show, yet can easily be tricked into just one more episode in less than 5 seconds when the next show enticingly and automatically appears on the screen and begins playing.Yet it took me getting downright mad before I became really willing to look at and change my behavior–just like in a bad relationship!
And, I’m Done!
In my opinion, Netflix airs socially irresponsible shows. Two examples include–13 Reasons Why and To The Bone. Yet these shows have helped me finally be able to call it quits–even while in the midst of a most favorite series!! Why? Because it lit up discussions among our parents and clients (and many families outside of our offices) who struggle with these issues, and for some it became a direct trigger, a reinforcer, and a misguided influencer to their very serious behaviors of self-harm and suicidal attempts.
While my shows are pretty benign–Parenthood, Scandal, Gypsy–they still seemed to create more of a negative state of mind rather than helping me relax as I intended. Here are the questions that surface for me as I look at my own Netflix viewing behaviors. Try them on for yourself or check in with your teenage kids about their answers to the questions below:
Ask Yourself/Your Kids…
1. Does it make you feel better or worse?
2. Do you lose sleep over it ?
3. Do you feel healthy or unhealthy when watching it?
4. Do you skip or put off responsibilities to view it?
5. Do you pay attention to your feelings or avoid your feelings more?
6. Do you take care of yourself or ignore your needs when interacting with it?
7. Does it hurt you in some way?
8. Do you put it before other important values or relationships?
9. Does it frequently disappoint you?
10. Or, do you feel inspired?
10. It is honest and rooted in truth? How do you know?
11. Or, is the communication based on fiction or false information?
These questions sound like deal breakers in a relationship right? They also apply to all other technology and social media use. Take a moment to analyze whether you think your Netflix viewing (or your child’s viewing) is a good or bad relationship for you or for those whom you love.