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How to break up with your Netflix addiction
Netflix
Recent research from the Diffusion Group found that Netflix users watch over 90 minutes of video every day, as the amount of Netflix streaming has increased 350 percent over the past two and a half years. As a whole, users have watched a mind-boggling seven billion hours of Netflix in the past three months. - photo by istockphoto.com

“Next episode playing in 12 seconds…11…10…”

This seems to be the current dilemma of many Netflix users around the world: to watch just one more episode of a favorite TV show or leave the couch to do something more productive. With only 12 seconds to decide, the decision is often made for us.

Recent research from the Diffusion Group found that Netflix users watch over 90 minutes of video every day, as the amount of Netflix streaming has increased 350 percent over the past two and a half years. As a whole, users have watched a mind-boggling seven billion hours of Netflix in the past three months.

It appears that Netflix will continue to dominate the modern world of television as Netflix viewing numbers are ever increasing. Along with a huge variety of popular movies and cable television shows available at the click of a button, Netflix has also become a front runner for creating some of the more successful original television shows in recent memory, including “House of Cards” and “Orange Is the New Black.”

The phenomenon known as “binge-watching” was created as a result of Netflix’s wide variety of television shows, most of which are offered in their entirety all at once. The Atlantic defines “binge-watching” as the following:

• binge-watch: (v) to watch at least four episodes of a television program, typically a drama, in one sitting (bathroom breaks and quick kitchen snack runs excepted) through an on-demand service or DVDs, often at the expense of other perceived responsibilities in a way that can cause guilt.

Well, what’s really so bad about all that?

According to Lilian Cheugn, director of health promotion for the Department of Nutrition at Harvard School of Public Health, the more television people watch, the more at risk they are for weight gain and chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes.

Additional research on the phenomenon of binge-watching comes from a study published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, as the data shows that users who view over three hours of television per day are more at risk for heart disease, stroke and even cancer.

Is it time to cut your ties with your TV binging addiction? Here are four ways you can start viewing Netflix in a healthier, less obsessive way.

• Stop the episode three-quarters of the way in.

This may sound like an annoying idea, but if you really want to quit binge-watching, this can be the gateway to doing so. A recent Wall Street Journal article that discussed ways to overcome binge-watching quoted Charlie Rubin, a former writer for “Seinfeld” and “Law & Order: SVU.” Rubin noted that shows are often written to have a lull in the action or plot about three-quarters of the way through, right before the more dramatic ending in the last minutes.

So next time you feel the urge to get pulled into another episode, try stopping your current episode with 10-15 minutes remaining and pick it back up during your next Netflix viewing. Then, repeat.

• Turn off the auto-play feature.

Often the main reason users get pulled into marathon sessions of television is because of the auto play feature. This is a simple change in settings under the “Your Account” field on Netflix that can disrupt the constant playing of episode after episode. The fact that you will have to manually click to select another episode may be just the extra push you need to say no to binging.

• Take a moment or two before deciding to watch another episode.

In a June Huffington Post article on ways to make better decisions, one method listed was to take an extra moment before coming to a conclusion. HuffPost quoted a PLoS ONE study by researchers out of Columbia Medical Center on their findings regarding decision-making.

“Postponing the onset of the decision process by as little as 50 to 100 milliseconds enables the brain to focus attention on the most relevant information and block out irrelevant distractors.”

Since your auto play is now turned off (right?), you will have even more time to decide if one more episode is really the best idea.

• Set a timer for your WiFi signal.

This is a more extreme way to avoid binge-watching: turning off the Internet. By setting a timer to turn your WiFi off at certain hours of the day or night, you are removing all aspects of the temptation to binge-watch whenever you are most prone to do so. If you set your WiFi to turn off between the hours of 11 p.m. and 8 a.m., you eliminate the chances of getting distracted by Netflix and any other Internet related phenomenon for that matter, and you’ll have nothing else to do besides go to bed, right?

Email: lperri@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @leahperri23