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Does Internet Access Make You Happier?

Since Internet use became widespread, the media has produced countless articles saying too many people use the Internet for too much time. These reports chronicle how the Internet plagues people, causing addictions to porn, gambling, and other unsavory vices. But a new study from the British organization Chartered Institute of IT, known as BCS -- anyone know how you get BCS from Chartered Institute of IT? -- finds that people with Internet access are happier than those without it.

BCS partnered with the Trajectory Partnership to evaluate data from 35,000 people worldwide who answered the World Values Study (2005-2007). The researchers, led by Michael Willmott, examined several aspects that contribute to happiness such as gender, age, income, and education. Regardless of these factors, they found that people with Internet access were happier than those without it. Even significantly poor people experienced increased levels of joy if they had Internet access. Willmott says that people with Internet access are happier because the web empowers people.

Contentment remained consistent across age groups—children and adolescents weren't the only groups who enjoy surfing the web. However, the survey uncovered a surprising nugget—the Internet provides more joy to women than men, and it bestows more happiness to women living in the developing world.

The study didn't explain why the Internet makes people feel happy (we have a few thoughts: mentalfloss.com, cute cats, Betty White campaigns on Facebook, minisodes of True Blood), but they surmise that women are happier with the Internet than without because it allows them to easily connect with friends and family. The researchers also suspect that some women use the Internet as a tool to help them run the household more efficiently.

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Netflix's Most-Binged Shows of 2017, Ranked
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Netflix might know your TV habits better than you do. Recently, the entertainment company's normally tight-lipped number-crunchers looked at user data collected between November 1, 2016 and November 1, 2017 to see which series people were powering through and which ones they were digesting more slowly. By analyzing members’ average daily viewing habits, they were able to determine which programs were more likely to be “binged” (or watched for more than two hours per day) and which were more often “savored” (or watched for less than two hours per day) by viewers.

They found that the highest number of Netflix bingers glutted themselves on the true crime parody American Vandal, followed by the Brazilian sci-fi series 3%, and the drama-mystery 13 Reasons Why. Other shows that had viewers glued to the couch in 2017 included Anne with an E, the Canadian series based on L. M. Montgomery's 1908 novel Anne of Green Gables, and the live-action Archie comics-inspired Riverdale.

In contrast, TV shows that viewers enjoyed more slowly included the Emmy-winning drama The Crown, followed by Big Mouth, Neo Yokio, A Series of Unfortunate Events, GLOW, Friends from College, and Ozark.

There's a dark side to this data, though: While the company isn't around to judge your sweatpants and the chip crumbs stuck to your couch, Netflix is privy to even your most embarrassing viewing habits. The company recently used this info to publicly call out a small group of users who turned their binges into full-fledged benders:

Oh, and if you're the one person in Antarctica binging Shameless, the streaming giant just outed you, too.

Netflix broke down their full findings in the infographic below and, Big Brother vibes aside, the data is pretty fascinating. It even includes survey data on which shows prompted viewers to “Netflix cheat” on their significant others and which shows were enjoyed by the entire family.

Netflix infographic "The Year in Bingeing"
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