Why Video Games and Netflix Won’t Reduce Your High Stress

We love video games as much as the next guy—or maybe more than the next guy—but if there’s one thing they won’t do, it’s reduce stress. Neither do movies, TV, or other media.

According to a study published in the Journal of Communication, high stressed people who play video games or watch TV don’t have lower stress as a result, they feel guilty and fatigued. Researchers surveyed 471 people about the day preceding the survey and had them report how they felt after work and what media they used that night. People particularly fatigued or stressed had a high tendency to view their media use as a form of procrastination; they also felt guilty that they succumbed to desire to use media instead of taking care of more important business.

Interestingly, previous studies have shown that video games, TV, and movies can produce a “recovery experience” which helps people psychologically detach from whatever’s going on in their lives, allowing people to feel energized after media use. Unfortunately, this new study seems to suggest that the very highly stressed, who would benefit the most from having a “recovery experience”, don’t get any of the psychological rewards of detaching with media.

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