A new analysis suggests many of us spend more time streaming than spending quality time together — but you can make binge-watching a family affair.
- Nicole Lyn Pesce, Moneyish
So much for Netflix and children.
We may spend twice as much time binging-watching Netflix as we do bonding with family, according to a new analysis from the Streaming Observer.
And considering these two recent studies have suggested families only spend anywhere from 34 minutes to 37 minutes of quality, undistracted time (when they feel they “actually bond together and catch up without gadgets,” per the first report), Brantner averaged the time that families hang out together to 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,” he wrote. And he also drew upon the most recent Bureau of Labor Statistics’ American Time Use Survey to find we spend almost the same amount of time each day watching Netflix as we do exercising (17.4 minutes), reading (16.8 minutes) and socializing with friends (39 minutes) combined. And considering the largest streaming site is estimated to be spending $12 billion to $13 billion on content this year, and has been signing partnerships with the Obamas and Shonda Rhimes, it’s hard to resist tuning in.
Now, there’s some caveats to this report. For one thing, the 117.58 million subscribers that Netflix has on the books doesn’t account for multiple people sharing one account and logging on with someone else’s password. And how many people are watching those 140 million hoursof Netflix content at once — is there one person in a sample room, or 10? And it could be that childless people log in far more hours of Netflix than do those with kids. Plus, it leaves out Hulu, Amazon Prime and other services. “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.”
But a recent report from CivicScience that compared Netflix users from October 2015 to April 2017 did find that subscribers are skewing older and having kids. Before October 2015, 34% of Netflix users were between 18 and 24, but after April 2017 they made up just 11% of users — while those ages 35 to 44 spiked to almost one in four (24%) users after April 2017, up from 15% in 2015. And subscribers identifying as parents jumped 16% to about half (48%) of users.
And the analysis does launch a timely discussion about how we’re spending our time, and how often we’re glued to our screens. And people of all ages are spending more time on their screens. While kids ages eight and younger spend two hours and 19 minutes a day with screen media on average, according to Common Sense Media, parents are also logging more than nine hours a day on their phones, tablets and computers for work and play.
But some parents noted that watching Netflix (or Hulu, Amazon Prime and the growing list of streaming service sand apps) and hanging out with friends and family doesn’t have to be mutually exclusive.
Lance Somerfeld, father of two and founder of the City Dads Group, told Moneyish that Netflix has actually enhanced family time in his home. “We can all gather on the couch with a fun family flick like ‘Coco,’ ‘Boss Baby’ or ‘Moana,’” he said. “Then, we blast the music from those films on our Amazon Alexa and a dance party ensues.