Netflix knows it has a grip on viewers: The average subscriber streamed 50 minutes of Netflix a day last year, according to a CNBC report, and CEO Reed Hastings admits he wants to keep you watching.
“You know, think about it, when you watch a show from Netflix and you get addicted to it, you stay up late at night,” Hastings said in an earnings call last year, per Recode. “You really – we’re competing with sleep, on the margin.”
Now, a Netflix superuser in India who watched more than seven hours a day has admitted he needs help, the Hindu reported. The unidentified man checked into the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore last week after using Netflix to escape the reality of his unemployment for six months, according to the newspaper.
Manoj Kumar Sharma, a clinical psychologist at the institute’s Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT), told the Hindu that the man turned to Netflix to escape pressures from family to find a job, forgetting his problems and deriving “immense pleasure from it.”
SHUT launched in 2014 as India’s first clinic dedicated to treating technology addiction, according to Nihmans, and also conducts skills and awareness workshops around technology addiction.
The man’s bingeing began first thing in the morning, leading to eye strain, fatigue and disturbed sleep, the newspaper reported. Treating his condition will involve five-minute breathing exercises every hour to relieve stress, according to New Delhi’s The Print, along with therapy and career counseling.
“Netflix addiction” isn’t in the DSM-5, psychiatry’s so-called Bible of mental disorders, and controversy surrounds the ideas of similar screen-related addictions.
The World Health Organization classified video-game addiction as a mental health disorder in June, a decision met with skepticism by some mental health experts.
Disorder or not, the precise types of screen-driven behaviors seem to vary by age, said Sharma, the psychologist with India’s SHUT clinic, according to The Print:
“While addiction among the younger generation, aged between eight and 14 years, continues to be centered on gaming, apps such as Netflix are more for the adults, who find emotional gratification (in streaming content) as they are under constant stress.”