It’s the latest in a series of new findings from Netflix’s internal research, in which the streaming service has taken its audience into the mind of a young adult with autism.
The study, titled “The Netflix effect on autism spectrum disorder: The ‘Netflix effect’ in action,” was published on Monday.
It was funded by the Autism Speaks Institute and the Wellcome Trust.
The team of researchers, including Professors Rachael Gorman and Kate McLean, studied a group of 2,500 people aged between 20 and 34 with autism who participated in a study of social and communication skills.
They had to complete four to six hours of a two-week, online survey about how they interacted with friends and family members.
The results were analysed by an outside consultant, who looked at whether people were experiencing the effects of the show or movies, and whether they had been affected by it.
While there is no specific evidence that watching a movie on Netflix helps people with autism, the researchers found that people with the condition were more likely to watch films or television that were rated as ‘too intense’.
“The effects of Netflix on autism are real and we are just beginning to understand them,” the researchers said.
“Our findings show that people who are diagnosed with autism do have an experience of being bombarded with ‘too much’ media.
It is not the only way to consume media, but for many, Netflix is the preferred method.”
The results, published in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, showed that watching films with more than three minutes of video per minute was linked to increased levels of anxiety, depression and other symptoms.
The most popular movie for those who were diagnosed with the disorder was The Hunger Games, followed by Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, and Marvel’s Captain America: Civil War.
Those with the diagnosis of Asperger’s were also more likely than those without to have consumed a film with more time than five minutes.
They were also at increased risk of binge eating, as they consumed more than seven hours of video each day.
There is no research on the effects on children.
“Although we have seen significant increases in attention in Aspergers patients over the past decade, there is little information about how this attention might be affected by watching TV and movies,” the study authors wrote.
“The impact of the TV binge on children and young people in particular is unclear.”
Prof McLean said there was some evidence that people in the age group between 18 and 24 might be more prone to consuming excessive amounts of media.
“There is some evidence, for example, that some people with Asperges may become more prone when they consume excessive amounts,” she said.
Prof McLaren said that while Netflix might be an effective tool for helping people with conditions like autism, it was important to remember that the show was not intended to be a cure for autism.
“Aspirational and scientific evidence is the main focus of this research,” she added.
“It is important that we continue to use the most effective treatments for those with autism and treat people with these disorders with empathy and respect.”
The study also found that those with Aspie or Asperging symptoms did not seem to have any more negative or positive experiences with Netflix than people without the condition.
“We were not able to establish whether there were any changes in how people viewed themselves or other aspects of their lives,” the authors wrote in their paper.
“This is in line with previous research that found there are no effects of watching TV on mental health, although we did find that people are less likely to see themselves as normal in comparison to people without autism.”
The researchers also found no differences in how they thought about their condition compared to those without autism.
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