Relaxing With Video Games and TV Might Make You Feel Worse: Study

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Researchers from Germany and the Netherlands found that watching your favorite show isn't always the best way to unwind.

Plopping down on the couch to watch TV or play video games after a long day of work may not be the best way to recharge, a new study has found.

People who were highly stressed after a long day at school or the office did not feel relaxed or recovered, researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands discovered. Instead, they tended to show increased levels of guilt and feelings of failure, the researchers found.

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For their study, the results of which were recently published in the Journal of Communication, Dr. Leonard Reinecke, Dr. Tilo Hartmann and Dr. Allison Eden asked 471 participants about their previous day, how they felt after work or school and what media they turned to at the end of the day.

Those who felt particularly drained after a day of work were more inclined to feel that by watching TV or playing a video game, they wasted time or procrastinated and felt guilty for doing that instead of taking care of more important tasks.

Prior research has shown that turning to TV or video games to relax helps people recover and feel in control, making them more energized after their media break. But this new information suggests that those the most in need of recharging are often not served by attempts to do so.

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“[This study] demonstrates that in 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," Reinecke said in a press release announcing the study’s findings.

"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."