“Binge-watching” Netflix is a guilty pleasure for most adults, but a new analysis has found that parents spend twice as much time watching the popular streaming service than they do bonding with their children.
According to a new analysis from the Streaming Observer, an independent news site that covers streaming video and entertainment, the average Netflix user now spends 1 hour and 11 minutes (71 minutes) each day streaming on the service. That adds up to over 434 hours – or 18 full days – spent streaming on Netflix each year.
How did the Streaming Observer reach this figure? When the company announced that it’s users streamed 140 million hours of content each day late last year, there were 117.58 million subscribers. Just by doing simple math and dividing 140 million hours of content watched each day by 117.58 million subscribers, the result is on average each user spends 1 hour and 11 minutes streaming on the service daily.
The two studies above have suggested families spend anywhere between 34 and 37 minutes free from distractions of quality time (when they “feel they actually bond” together and catch up without gadgets, per the Streaming Observer analysis.
Editor-in-chief of the Streaming Observer, Chris Brantner averaged the time families actually hang out together to the average of 35.5 minutes per day.
“That means the typical subscriber spends about half as much quality time with their family as they do with Netflix,” writes Brantner.
Drawing from the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey, Brantner found people spend close to the same amount of time each day watching Netflix as they do reading (16.8 minutes), exercising (17.4 minutes), and socializing with friends (39 minutes) combined.
“Gone are the days of watching a show at a certain time and waiting a week for the next episode,” Brantner told Moneyish. “Netflix drops an entire season at a time and autoplays episodes after one finishes. It’s a recipe for time-sucking addiction.”
There are some caveats to this report, however. The 117.58 million subscribers that Neflix has on the books does not account for multiple people sharing one account by logging on with someone else’s password, nor does it count how many people could be watching per screen. For example, is there one person in any given sample room, or 20?
“Netflix is by far the giant of the streaming industry, with the most subscribers by far,” Brantner explained. “Netflix is so popular that it’s become one of those names that is synonymous with the product. Like people saying they want a Coke when they may mean another type of soft drink. People even use ‘Netflix’ as a verb.”
Don’t forget Hulu, Amazon Prime and other services such as YouTube. Lots of people switch back and forth between different services. If they are not entertained by one, they simply move to the next. Also, what about those who have no children? Are they logging into Netflix more often and watching longer than people who do have children?
Brantner also reported that Netflix users spend more than twice as much time binge-watching shows as they spend on Facebook (27 minutes per day).
A recent report from CivicScience compared Netflix users from October 2015 to April 2017 and found that subscribers have been skewing older and having children. Before October 2015, 34% of Netflix users were between 18 and 24, but after April 2017 that age group made up just 11% of users.
In contrast, those ages 35 to 44 spiked to almost 1 in 4 (with 24%) users after April 2017, up from 15% seen in 2015.
Not only that, but subscribers that identified as parents jumped from 16% to almost half (48%) of all Netflix users.
The analysis also found that while children ages 8 and younger are spending roughly 2 hours and 19 minutes on average each day watching screen media, according to Common Sense Media, parents are also logging over 9 hours each day on their tablets, phones and computers for both work and play.
The American Academy of Pediatrics released its screentime guidelines a few years ago, stressing that co-viewing programs and discussing them with children afterward can be an important educational opportunity.
“Co-viewing and co-engaging when you’re on media or watching Netflix is really important and it’s another way to bond with your child,” pediatrician and AAP spokesperson Dr. Corinn Cross told Moneyish. “We’re getting away from how many hours everyone spends on screens and thinking about it more as an opportunity cost: if we’re spending time on screens, then what are we missing out on?” she added.
Murphy continued, “Kids love to talk about media. Ask them about their favorite and you can’t get out of that conversation. And that’s a great way to get kids to open up, practice storytelling and articulating and build their language skills.”
There are simply more ways to bond with your children than watching shows and then discussing what you’ve watched. Try taking a walk and discussing the sites and sounds around you. Engage with your children on an organic level by teaching them a skill, find out what THEY are interested in and show them support.
Remember back to your childhood, you know-before you had any and everything you wanted to watch literally at your fingertips-when watching a show or a movie was special. We spent our free time in so many more productive ways, and in ways that encouraged and provoked critical thinking–not just sitting and letting your mind adjust to alpha waves.
Everything in moderation.
Neflix CEO Reed Hastings believes the company needs to have its users spending even more time on the service than they currently do.
“We’re still a small fraction of every society’s overall viewing,” Hastings said on a call with investors in July. “So I think there’s still room to go there.”
Netflix is rolling out around 700 Original Series this year in hopes that you’ll watch more. Which in turn, will continue to soak up time that you could be spending with your children and your loved ones.
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