Science and Tech


Can Watching TV Make You Feel Like A Failure?

A study by German researchers claims watching TV while you're stressed out can make you feel guilty and like a failure.
Posted at 7:40 PM, Jul 24, 2014

You've just had a long, hard day at work and can't wait to go home, kick up your feet and switch on the TV. (Via Getty Images)

Definitely sounds like my kind of relaxation. But according to a new study, sometimes sitting in front of the tube could actually have the opposite effect, bringing on feelings of guilt and failure, according to German researchers.

The study, called "The Guilty Couch Potato," says that, depending on what kind of day a person has had, they might beat themselves up for using that hour in front of the television as a procrastination tool. (Via Journal of Communication)

In a press release, one study author says: ​"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. ... 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."

They came to that conclusion after surveying 471 people about their previous day and how they felt after work or school. (Via Getty Images)   

They found those who felt the most fatigued at the end of the day had a higher chance of feeling guilty after a TV bender, and got less of the benefit of relaxing in front of the tube. (Via Getty Images)

But as a writer forTime points out — what you're watching plays a huge role.

With a previous study to back that claim, they point out, "intellectually stimulating media content (like a History Channel segment or a documentary) can positively impact people’s emotional states. ... Watching 'low-brow' forms of entertainment (we’re guessing reality TV qualifies here) are more likely to make people feel guilty about using it as a stress-reliever."

So basically it all depends on the person and the kind of day they've had. If you're already pretty stressed out, junk TV might not help you unwind after all.