Using TV, Videos or a Computer Game as a Stress Reducer after a Tough Day at Work Can Lead to Feelings of Guilt and Failure

I know TV is evil, but I thought video games were good.  Guess I was wrong again!

Via ScienceDaily:

It seems common practice: After a long day at work, most people sometimes just want to turn on the TV or play a video or computer game to calm down and relax. However, in a study recently published in the Journal of Communication researchers at Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz in Germany and VU University Amsterdam in the Netherlands found that people who were highly stressed after work did not feel relaxed or recovered when they watched TV or played computer or video games. Instead, they tended to show increased levels of guilt and feelings of failure.


In a joint survey research project, Dr. Leonard Reinecke of the Department of Communication at Mainz University and Dr. Tilo Hartmann and Dr. Allison Eden of the Department of Communication Science at the University of Amsterdam asked a total of 471 study participants about their previous day, how they felt after work or school, and what media they turned to at the end of the day. The researchers found that those who felt particularly wiped out after work or school were more inclined to feel that their media use was wasted time and procrastination. They felt guilty for having given in to their desire of watching TV or playing a video game instead of taking care of more important tasks. In consequence, these people felt less recovered and revitalized, diminishing the positive effects of media use.

The results suggest a paradoxical pattern between depletion and media-induced recovery: Those who could have benefited the most from recovery through media use instead experienced less recovery because they were more prone to think of their media use as a failure in self-control.

Prior research has shown that the use of entertaining media produces a recovery experience that helps people relax and detach from the stresses of work, but also provides mastery experience and a feeling of control. As a result, people feel energized and more vital after media use and even show stronger cognitive performance thanks to media-induced recovery.

“We are beginning to better understand that media use can have beneficial effects for people’s well-being through media-induced recovery. Our present study is an important step towards a deeper understanding of this. It 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,” said Dr. Leonard Reinecke, lead author of the study. “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.”

  • Gjallarbru

    As a pretty big gamer when I was younger, I do think video games did get in the way for a bunch of things. I don’t know about actual guilt or failure, but it did sometimes suck large amount of time right under my nose. It wasn’t hard for hours to just disappear while gaming.

    LAN parties were a whole other story, being great to socialize with friends. The pauses were over a pizza or two, which is something I miss. Most games don’t offer LAN games anymore, and that really sucks hard…

    All that to say, as I have grown older, I find I can’t tolerate games much. They stress me out completely, to the point I have to shut them off. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not talking about rage-quit, I mean intolerable levels of stress no matter how well I’m doing in the game. So yeah, there’s no recovery for me while gaming. Hence, I don’t game as much as I used to, and I’m not too surprised about that study.

    • BuzzCoastin

      once upon a time
      I had an affair with a woman
      who’s husband binge played Duke Nucum every weekend for 3 years
      he never suspected her of the affair nor ever found out
      and when she left him
      he thought she was upset about his game addiction

      • Gjallarbru

        Every weekend? Seriously? I never even got close to that.

        • BuzzCoastin

          or maybe happily
          he never even suspected an affrair
          and Duck Nuced himself all weekend all the time
          meanwhile, back at the ranch

          • Gjallarbru

            Ha! Now there’s a story when you think of it. I did have a friend that didn’t leave the house for a month straight because of the first StarCraft. I thought he was nuts. But when you don’t suspect an affair because of video games, now that is nuts!

  • BuzzCoastin

    I sure hope they find a good way to revitalize all workers
    the poor elites need your best efforts
    games, cop shows and gmo bread to the rescue

    about 50 years ago
    Marshall McLuhan observed that
    The Media is the Massage
    not very many understand the message about the massage
    too bad

    • Dingbert

      (not a criticism of your statement, just reminded me of this scene)

      • BuzzCoastin
        • Dingbert

          I knew nothing of your work before, but I do now and I totally dig it.

        • Number1Framer

          That’s some rabbit hole of a channel you have there that I fell into for the last hour. Reminds me of Nam Jun Paik combined with early Skinny Puppy content and sampling work. I love it and will eventually work my way through them all. Are you familiar with the term vaporwave?

          • BuzzCoastin

            Nam Jun Paik
            yeah, I’ve sampled him
            good luck on getting through them all
            there are about 2000
            scattered over a dozen channels
            on yt & vimeo
            BobDobbstown on both
            Mycluein on yt are media ecologic

  • Haystack

    The trouble, I find, is when you’re not actively enjoying the media as much as distracting yourself from how tired/bored/unhappy you are as a result of your work life. Distraction can’t relieve stress; it can only shelve it for a while. When that’s over, you look back and realize that you wasted your precious free time not “having fun” as much as “avoiding your misery.”

    Not all media use is like that. You may truly enjoy Breaking Bad and get a release from that, but all too often you’re watching 30 Rock just so you can have something to stare at while you eat potato chips.

    • Number1Framer

      I tell everyone I know to get rid of their TVs. I still watched Breaking Bad, but when I was buying a season pass on Amazon I wasn’t spending the next 2 hours after Breaking Bad pressing the up and down channel buttons on my remote all zombie-like. When you have to go out of your way to seek out the content you want rather than sit down in a comfy recliner in a living room that’s usually designed and layed out around the position of the TV, you tend to become more decisive about what’s worth your precious time and isn’t. Not to say that the internet doesn’t waste fucktons of my time in TV’s place (like this site for instance), but at least I’m choosing the content myself and not absorbing as many gigatons of eye-watering advertisements online.

      • Echar Lailoken

        The main reason I dislike television is the comercials. I see what you are saying too.

  • Chaorder Gradient

    Are they watching Documentaries, or Jerry Springer?
    Are they playing Dark Souls or Candy Crush?

    • Simon Valentine

      they’re playing games that are blockades

      mana and rattrap work of class and fraud

      follow the paper trail to the mirror, said the forty thieves

      you will know when you find it

      clip it on your pocket and walk to [Error 404: address_request denied]

  • Simon Valentine

    hello honesty

    i see you brought some baggage
    let me guess
    it’s in order but it’s not in order

    • Chaorder Gradient

      I would love to pick your brain one day

      • Simon Valentine

        i advise that on that day you will have your choice of experience

        ‘cuz i did just use the term “celery brain” in a piece the other day
        …and work with comparative limits alot

        my hopes that you may pick my brain out of your teeth
        metonymity options no longer soldered separately