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Thursday 2 October 2014

Watching TV 'causes guilty feeling'

Published 24/07/2014 | 10:34

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Scientists have discovered that slumping in front of the television at the end of a long day can make you feel guilty and like a failure

Want to de-stress after a long day at work? The answer isn't to sit down and enjoy your favourite show or play a video game.

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Scientists have confirmed what we suspected for while - such actions do nothing but help create feelings of guilt and failure.

Any positive effects of bingeing on TV (getting to the end of a box set does feel amazing!) or hitting that next level in a game can be wiped out because stressed people feel they should have been doing something more important.

Researchers at the Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and the VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands asked 471 study participants how they felt after work or school the previous day and, crucially, what media they had used.

Those who were especially fatigued were more inclined to feel that their watching TV or playing games was procrastination, and that they were dodging more important tasks by succumbing to using media.

It created a cycle of guilt and failure, which in turn made them feel less recovered and revitalised, according to the study published in the Journal Of Communication.

Dr Leonard Reinecke, from Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz who co-authored the report, said: "We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people's well-being, through media-induced recovery.

"Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this. It demonstrates that in the real life, the relationship between media use and well-being is complicated and that the use of media may conflict with other, less pleasurable but more important duties and goals in everyday life.

"We are starting to look at media use as a cause of depletion. In times of smartphones and mobile internet, the ubiquitous availability of content and communication often seems to be a burden and a stressor rather than a recovery resource."

Previous research has shown that using entertaining media can produce a "recovery experience" that helps people relax and detach from the stresses of work.

But the latest study highlighted the paradox of using various media to relax after a stressful day, with those who might have benefited most from using media to recover instead experiencing lower levels of recovery, because they felt doing so was a sign that they had failed to exercise self-control.

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