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Study shows kids drawn to online videos promoting greed, gossip, and controversy

A teen on a laptop

A new study by Ofcom has found that popular videos viewed by children in the UK today are designed to grab and maintain viewers’ attention, while not needing much effort or focus to understand. Perhaps the most disappointing thing about these videos, however, is their content.

The videos largely involve gossip, conflict, controversy, extreme challenges, and high stakes involving large sums of money. The videos done in the style of commentaries or reactions were popular among viewers, especially if they are encouraging influencer rivalry that requires the viewer to pick a side in the dispute.

Ofcom said some of the most notorious personalities for creating this content were Mr Beast, Infinite, and JackSucksAtStuff. It went on to say they captivate audiences with short-form content that uses “a distinct, stimulating, editing style, designed to create maximum dramatic effect” using jump-cut edits, changing camera angles, special effects, animations, and fast-paced speech.

Another interesting thing that the study picked up on was the rising phenomenon of split-screening. This is where someone will have several videos on the screen side-by-side or stacked on top of one another so that viewers can jump between the videos. The ability to do this is apparently helpful for people who find it hard to focus on one video at a time and it can also be handy when influencers are reacting to other videos or giving an opinion on real-world events.

Among kids in the UK, YouTube remained the most popular site or app with 88% of children between 3 and 17 watching there. Ofcom said that both TikTok and Snapchat have seen significant increases in use for consuming video over the last year too.

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