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  • 작성자 사진Kim Min-ji

[Feature] POP! Do Not Let Our Brains Become Like Popcorn!

No.163 / Apr 17, 2023

“Modern people’s brains are becoming popcorn.” What does that mean? The popcorn brain is a phenomenon in which the brain becomes accustomed to quick and intense stimuli from digital devices such as smartphones, and insensitive to stimuli in reality, which are relatively slow and weak.

Humans, who used to acquire information through newspapers, books, and TV broadcasts, no longer have to invest considerable time in information acquisition owing to the advent of smartphones. Every minute, 500 hours of videos are uploaded to YouTube. It would take 60 years for a person to watch all YouTube videos uploaded during the day. Most of those uploaded videos are about 10 minutes long at most, or 10 to 15 seconds long which are called YouTube Shorts. These can adversely affect human brain development and mental health. If people continue to be exposed to such a short amount of data, they will continue to crave only the injection of new information. As such, if a viewer only thinks immediately and sporadically without any time to think about a single topic for a long time, they will not be able to concentrate on what they have to do for a long time. If people fall into the popcorn brain phenomenon, in addition to a decline in concentration, side effects like poor literacy and weakened mental health could follow. According to a survey of 1,152 elementary, middle, and high school teachers nationwide, conducted by the Korea Federation of Teachers’ Associations, the main reason for the decline in literacy was “being used to video media such as YouTube”. Short videos within a minute are produced for the purpose of inducing laughter, and accordingly, usually composed of contextless content. Therefore, the environment in which videos can be viewed without efforts such as understanding the context can affect the deterioration of literacy. To increase attention and views in a short time, the short-form mass content contains violent and suggestive materials. As Shorts on TikTok or YouTube have been released relatively recently, no clear research has yet determined their effects on mental health. However, studies have shown that digital media can arouse mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. Therefore, Shot-forms, which are more stimulating and shorter than digital media, are expected to pose a greater risk.

The habit of watching Short-forms will make it harder for viewers to watch long videos, little by little. For these reasons, the time spent watching Short-forms will increase, creating a vicious cycle that strengthens the aforementioned side effects. The only way for people to escape the popcorn brain is to reduce watching Short-form content.


By Kim Min-ji, AG Senior Editor

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