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  • 작성자 사진Noh Hyun-jin

[Feature] The Dark Side of Short-Form Contents

No.162 / Mar 6, 2023

Short-form contents refer to short-length videos. The main platforms hosting short-form contents include TikTok (up to 10 minutes in duration, released in 2017), YouTube shorts (up to 1 minute in duration, released in 2020), and Instagram reels (up to 1.5 minutes in duration, released in 2021).

Statistics on usage time of teenagers

According to a survey by the application/retail analysis company WiseApp in July 2022, which targeted people in their 10s using Android phones, the total time of 10s using TikTok was 1.94 billion minutes, outpacing KakaoTalk (1.86 billion minutes), an increase of 155% compared to 760 million minutes in July 2019. In addition, the marketing company Univtomorrow’s 20sLab conducted a survey of 900 men and women aged 15 to 41 in 17 cities from June to July 2022, 53.7% of Generation Z (aged 15 to 26) short-form contents consumers watched short-form contents every day, and daily viewing time these users is 75 minutes and 8 seconds on weekdays and 96 minutes on weekends.

Harmful challenges

According to a survey on how people came to watch short-form contents by the market research company EMBRAIN Trend monitor, 53.4% of people in their 10s accidentally watched short-form contents while on SNSs. It can be said to be natural, but also indiscriminate, and they may be influenced into participating in harmful challenges. On short-form platforms, “challenge” refers to the act of carrying out certain missions according to themes. In January 2023, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, of the United States (U.S.)) announced that at least 80 people were believed to have died as a result of the “blackout challenge”, a live challenge wherein participants needed to hold their breath until they fainted. The damage has continued to occur, with teenagers dying in the United Kingdom (UK) in April 2022 and Argentina in January 2023. In addition, Hyundai and Kia Motors were targeted in a “car theft challenge” among teenagers that spread across the U.S. from July 2022, and four teenagers died in traffic accidents as a result. The “sedative challenge” in January 2023 challenged people to stay awake the longest after taking sedatives, in which about 10 Mexican elementary school students were hospitalized.

Other problems

The first is low copyright awareness. Short-form contents are usually posted with songs, and these songs are usually covered and combined indiscriminately. The second problem is the low literacy rate. According to Education Trend No.10 published by the Jeollabuk-do Office of Education in December 2022, “The main reason for the decline in youth literacy is the increase in the frequency of contact with short and addictive video media such as YouTube and TikTok.” The third is confirmation bias. Confirmation bias refers to the phenomenon of “seeing and listening to only what the individual wants, regardless of whether the information is true”. This is dangerous because it blocks critical thinking, and short-form contents can deepen that bias because the Artificial Intelligence (AI) automatically generates an algorithm and shows contents only similar to videos the individual watched. The last is brain health. Yoon Dae-hyun, a psychiatrist at the Seoul National University Hospital Healthcare System Gangnam Center, said, “For example, if you plan to watch a video for 10 minutes and then do your homework, but when the time is over than that time, your brain’s self-regulation ability decreases.”

Short-form contents have many advantages like encouraging creativity in production among teenagers, as well as economic activities through marketing. However, caution should be exercised.


By Noh Hyun-jin, AG Reporter

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