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Short-form, Era of Addiction
  • By Kim So-ha, reporter
  • 승인 2024.04.15 00:01
  • 호수 331
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▲ Short-form spreading rapidly through platforms such as YouTube and Instagram (Source: SBS)

Interest in Short- form content such as Youtube shorts and Instagram reels is popular inside Korean society. Short- form refers to a short time of video as its name suggests, and is generally produced between 15 seconds to 5 minutes. TikTok, YouTube Shorts, and Instagram Reels are the representative platforms. Short- form has become a trend in recent years as people’s desire to consume short, intense, and non- concentrated content became stronger. Since most of the Short- forms are made 'vertical videos,' the users can enjoy the video with the smartphone comfortably without turning it horizontally, increasing the contents’ accessibility. The Short- form market is currently growing rapidly throughout Generation Z for individuals under 30.

The problem is that with the rapid growth of the Short- form market, more and more people are complaining of Short- form addiction. According to mobile analysis platforms WiseApp, Retail, and Good's, the average monthly usage time per person of YouTube as of January this year was 40 hours, the highest level ever. This is more than 1.7 times higher than the global average (excluding China) usage time (23 hours). The industry believes that YouTube shorts played a decisive role in this. Analysts say that the characteristics of a short- form that allows users to enjoy various content within a short period of time have attracted the attention of the younger generation. In addition, the average monthly usage time of Short- form platforms per person by Korean smartphone users last year, which was compiled in the same survey, was 46 hours and 29 minutes as of August last year. This is five times longer than the average monthly usage time of OTT platforms, 9 hours and 14 minutes. In response to this phenomenon, WiseApp analyzed, "More and more people watch Short- forms of around 60 seconds, more than watching one 10- minute long video."

Those who enjoy Short- forms cited cost- effectiveness and performance for time as the main reasons for watching them. People want to split their time into minutes and seconds and live efficiently without wasting their leisure time. However, experts worry that excessive use of Short- forms at the level of an addiction can reduce attention and concentration and cause problems in brain function. They say that the brain may become insensitive to reality and respond only to intense stimulation. This behavioral addiction poses a greater risk, especially for growing children and teenagers. "If you get used to short and fast short- forms during your growth period, you will not be able to acquire patience, and you will become used to passive information provision, which can reduce literacy," said Lim Hyun- guk, a professor of psychiatry at the Catholic University of Korea's Yeouido St. Mary's Hospital. He warned, "As the act of acquiring information through behavior itself disappears, it can adversely affect brain development."

In fact, on February 14 (local time), New York City filed a lawsuit against major social media companies such as TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, and Snapchat on the grounds that the short- form adversely affects the mental health of adolescents. The lawsuit is in accordance with New York City's recommendation of the Department of Health and Mental Health, which defines unrestricted access and usage of SNS as a public health risk. New York City claimed that companies that operate SNS deliberately design addictive platforms and use harmful algorithms for teenagers to expand their profits. In October last year, 41 U.S. states filed a lawsuit with Meta, which operates Facebook and Instagram, claiming that children and teenagers are suffering from excessive addiction.

As the problem of short- form addiction emerges individually and socially, various efforts are being made to overcome and solve it. Some countries are trying to implement regulations on short- forms, including applications that prevent smartphones from being used for a certain period of time, digital detoxes using locks, and the emergence of book cafes that can only be entered by submitting mobile phones. As side effects of digital media consumption patterns have begun to emerge, it is time for big tech companies to make technical efforts along with public health research to prevent them.

By Kim So-ha, reporter  lucky.river16@gmail.com

<저작권자 © The Campus Journal, 무단 전재 및 재배포 금지>

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