Netflix and ill! Here’s a glimpse into what too much screentime does to the human body over time – and it’s not good

Couple watching a movie. (Photo: Getty Images)
Couple watching a movie. (Photo: Getty Images)

Too much TV gives you square eyes, our parents told us, but the effects of binge-watching could take an even worse toll on our bodies.

With South Africa now in its 11th consecutive week of coronavirus lockdown, everyone’s been watching a lot more TV.

And with recent news that local pay TV giant DStv is including subscriptions to Netflix and Amazon’s Prime Video on its new Explora offering, the local binge-watching craze is set to soar.

But if that habit becomes a lifestyle, binge-watchers could develop some very unappealing physical characteristics, including obesity, bloodshot eyes, premature ageing and bad posture.

Researchers at OnlineGambling.com have created disturbing digital sculptures illustrating the physical toll watching hours and hours of television can have on the human body. The computer-generated 3D models, dubbed Eric and Hannah, are both addicted to binge-watching TV in the year 2040, Mail Online reports.

 “We conducted a study on the impact that binging Netflix has on your health,” the creators of Eric and Hannah say on their website.

“We used our research to show you what you could look like if you don’t change your habits. From obesity and posture damage to premature ageing and bloodshot eyes, these are just some of the nasty effects this unhealthy lifestyle could cause,” reads an intro to the image series, called Meet Eric & Hannah: The Netflix Bingers.

Greying skin, dark bags under the eyes and obesity are the most visible effects on Eric and Hannah, but researchers also say they’re at increased risk of diabetes, varicose veins and even bowel cancer. 

They also have pasty skin and bald patches due to a lack of sunlight, but the artificial light from their screens have also prematurely aged them and they have some serious bags under their eyes.

Couple watching movie
Couple watching a movie. (Photo: Getty Images)

Their inactive lifestyles have given them varicose veins, misshapen leg muscles and what’s known as “dead butt syndrome”.

“Sitting for too long puts persistent pressure on the pelvic region, which damages your glutes – causing backache, and pain in the hip region and ankles,” the researchers explain.

But the damage doesn’t stop at their bodies. Eric and Hannah have also experienced some psychological effects as a result of watching too much TV.

“Bingeing usually means you sleep less, often leading to depression and anxiety,” the researchers say.

Binge-watching has long been known to have side effects, for both body and mind. A 2018 study found that streaming services could be killing sex, offering an alternative for many couples who watch shows in the evening hours who would’ve otherwise been doing the deed, Mail Online reports.

Another study, from 2019, found that the average person spends a massive 78 000 hours of their life watching television. Of that number, nearly 3 000 hours are spent deciding what to watch.

Sources: Business Tech, Online Gambling, Daily Mail, Mirror, Studyfinds.org