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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2022  |  Volume : 9  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 109-110

Understanding geriatric binge-watching from a case-based perspective

1 Department of Clinical Psychology, SHUT Clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Epidemiology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, State Drug Dependence Treatment Centre, Institute of Mental Health, Pt BDS University of Health Sciences, Rohtak, Haryana, India
4 Department of Clinical Psychology, National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission08-Dec-2022
Date of Decision27-Dec-2022
Date of Acceptance28-Dec-2022
Date of Web Publication20-Jan-2023

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Manoj Kumar Sharma
Department of Clinical Psychology, SHUT Clinic (Service for Healthy Use of Technology), National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jgmh.jgmh_51_22

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Binge-watching is a new phenomenon characterized by watching TV/online series continuously. The relatively sedentary way of life and its associated psychological factors among the elderly may make them vulnerable to technology misuse and potential problematic binge-watching. We describe a case of a 72-year-old male professional who sought help to manage problematic binge-watching of teleseries. The clinical evaluation highlighted the mediating role of motivation factors (need for self-absorbing activities, compensatory motivation to manage low mood and loneliness) in binge-watching. This case study provides insights into the motives of the elderly for binge-watching and highlights the need to promote behavioral strategies for strengthening the healthy use of technology among the elderly, allowing them to age healthily with advancing technologies.

Keywords: Binge-watching, elderly, motives, psychological factors

How to cite this article:
Sharma MK, Amudhan S, Arya S, Anand N, Sahu A, Kumar R, Tripathi R. Understanding geriatric binge-watching from a case-based perspective. J Geriatr Ment Health 2022;9:109-10

How to cite this URL:
Sharma MK, Amudhan S, Arya S, Anand N, Sahu A, Kumar R, Tripathi R. Understanding geriatric binge-watching from a case-based perspective. J Geriatr Ment Health [serial online] 2022 [cited 2023 Jun 4];9:109-10. Available from:

  Introduction Top

Binge-watching is defined as watching two–six episodes of the same TV show in one sitting.[1] It is a relatively new phenomenon owing to the rising number of over-the-top or video-on-demand platforms, increasingly observed in adolescents and young adults. Increase in the use of technology has been observed in the elderly as well as;[2] however the phenomenon of binge-watching in this population remains unexplored. As increasing age is associated with various psychosocial factors including loneliness and sedentary life, these may make them more vulnerable to problematic technology use and binge-watching.[3] The present case provides insights into the maladaptive excessive use of online activities in the form of binge-watching in an elderly male.

  Case Report Top

Mr. AS, a 72-year-old professional living separately from an upper socioeconomic family, presented with complaints of watching show series and low mood states for the past 1 year. His professional profile includes giving guidance or expert suggestions, which allowed him to have considerable leisure time. His wife has been living separately for the past 1 year, secondary to marital issues. Consequently, he started experiencing low mood states, which triggered an increased desire to engage in novel self-absorbing activities. He found a channel for its expression in show series, which has self-absorbing content. Self-absorbing activities refer to online activities that have soothing, enjoyable, and romantic content. Gradually, these online activities increased from 1 to 2 h in one sitting (once or twice a day) to 3–6 h (two–three times) per day. Currently, he watches average of 2–5 episodes in one sitting. He rationalized his binge-watching as a solely available leisure activity to overcome boredom, loneliness, leisure time, and low mood states. He realized its connection to delayed sleep initiation, physical exhaustion, and putting off crucial daily duties. These concerns motivate the need for consultation for technology use management. Clinical interviews revealed the presence of loss of control, use despite harmful consequences, particularly delay in initiation of sleep, decreased physical activities, emotional dysregulation, and feeling of guilt after binge-watching. His score on Beck Depression Inventory corresponded to the mild category and his score on the Internet Addiction Test corresponded to problematic Internet use. He lacked the symptoms of syndromal depression. He had attended 13 psychotherapy sessions (psychoeducation, marital counseling, relaxation exercise, emotional regulation techniques, and engagement in alternative offline self-absorbing activities like yoga; spending quality time with friends and family members; in-room activity packs such as cross wording and riddle; interaction or guidance to young professionals for career growth, etc.). His wife was approached and motivated to attend sessions for couple coping enhancement. He showed a reduction in engagement with online self-absorbing activities and improvement in marital life following the sessions.

  Discussion Top

This case illustrates the mediating role of psychological factors in binge-watching among the elderly as well as seeking consultation for its management. The client had attributed his binge-watching to various reasons, including its use as an accessible modality to overcome boredom, leisure time, and low mood states. These factors might mediate the loss of control or binge-watching of show series. The self-absorbing characteristics are often understood through behaviors identifying the self with the show series characters. The online show series often facilitates forming a one-sided bond between the viewers and characters, and this bond becomes the primary influencer for binging behavior.[4] The show series also provides a channel for the gratification of hedonistic needs and contributes to binge-watching.[5] The use of binge-watching also allows the user to escape reality and avoids problems or negative emotions. Further, binge-watching in solitude is often associated with the consumption of unhealthy food and reduced physical activity.[6],[7] Escaping from daily life challenges and coping with loneliness are the most commonly noticed motives for individuals with problematic binge-watching. The motivation for escape bears a positive correlation with emotional regulation, implying binge-watching is a form of emotional regulation.[5] The positive association of binge-watching with loneliness and attachment anxiety further contributes to increased binge-watching to overcome negative mood states.[8] Similar trend has also been observed among adults who use binge-watching as a method of distraction from daily stressors of life, promote a feeling of well-being, and overcome loneliness.[9] Technology has become an important modality to fulfill interpersonal and social needs among the elderly. However, the excessive use of technology can further deepen social isolation among the elderly.[10]

  Conclusions Top

There is a great potential for binge-watching to become addictive behavior if used regularly for instant gratification of hedonistic needs or to regulate emotions as a maladaptive coping. In addition, binge-watching is associated with adverse health consequences, especially those related to noncommunicable diseases. Thus, there is an immense need for research on binge-watching and its psychosocial correlates among the elderly to provide sufficient evidence for better understanding. This will be crucial for developing appropriate strategies to promote and strengthen the healthy use of technology among the elderly and will contribute toward healthy aging with advancing technologies.

Declaration of patient consent

The authors certify that they have obtained all appropriate patient consent forms. In the form, the patient has given his consent for clinical information to be reported in the journal. The patient understands that his name and initials will not be published and due efforts will be made to conceal his identity.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.

  References Top

Sidneyeve M. The Netflix effect: Teens, Binge Watching, and on-demand digital media trends. Jeunesse Young People Texts Cult 2014;6:119-38.  Back to cited text no. 1
Anderson M, Perrin A. Tech Adoption Climbs Among Older Americans. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2021 Feb 10].  Back to cited text no. 2
Müller AM, Khoo S. Non-face-to-face physical activity interventions in older adults: A systematic review. Int J Behav Nutr Phys Act 2014;11:35.  Back to cited text no. 3
Devasagayam R. Media bingeing: A qualitative study of psychological influences. In: Annual Spring Conference Proceedings of the Marketing Management Association Once Retro Now Novel Again. Marketing Management Association: Chicago, IL, USA; 2014. p. 40-4.  Back to cited text no. 4
Starosta J, Izydorczyk B, Lizińczyk S. Characteristics of people's binge-watching behavior in the “entering into early adulthood” period of life. Health Psychol Rep 2019;7:149-64.  Back to cited text no. 5
Flayelle M, Canale N, Vögele C, Karila L, Maurage P, Billieux J. Assessing binge-watching behaviors: Development and validation of the “watching TV series motives” and “binge-watching engagement and symptoms” questionnaires. Comput Hum Behav 2019;90:26-36.  Back to cited text no. 6
Starosta, J, Izydorczyk B. Understanding the phenomenon of binge-watching – A systematic review. Int J Environ Res Pub Health 2020;17:4469.  Back to cited text no. 7
Wheeler K. The Relationships Between Television Viewing Behaviours, Attachment, Loneliness, Depression and Psychological Well-Being (Graduate). Statesboro, USA: Georgia Southern University; 2015.  Back to cited text no. 8
Sharma MK, Anand N, Thamilselvan P, Suma N, John N, Sahu M, et al. Binge watching: An emerging manifestation of technology use. Asian J Psychiatry 2019;45:81-2.  Back to cited text no. 9
Cotten SR, Anderson WA, Mccullough BM. The impact of ICT use on loneliness and contact with others among older adults. Gerontechnology 2012;11:e39.  Back to cited text no. 10


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