Anyone else notice that short videos are making their attention span worse?

I don't actually use TikTok or even the "sliding" function on youtube shorts, but I feel like my attention span has gotten much worse after they started getting popular. Even watching a 2 minute video feels dreadfully long, let alone a 10 or 20 minute video, so I end up watching a mostly short animation memes instead.

pipe64 avatar

i think the way you get served videos also plays a big part. on short form, you have to keep scrolling to find a video that interests you. whereas on long form you get to decide what to watch beforehand, from a bunch of recommendations

nightauthor avatar

This makes sense, I read somewhere recently that there actually is no evidence that people’s attention span is getting shorter, it’s just crap people say.

supermurs avatar

I was a TikTok user for a couple of months, one night I noticed that I had spent a couple of hours just watching these stupid videos and not remembering anything. Since then I have uninstalled the app and felt better.

cacheson avatar

I came across a youtube video on this subject a little while back:

The TL;DW is that our attention spans aren't getting shorter, there's just other stuff going on (mostly stress) that makes it feel like they are.


For sure. It's the reason why I refuse to use apps that autoplay videos, including default reddit app, Twitter. I have YouTube Revanced which strips out the Shorts button and the section from the app itself. On desktop, I use an extension to remove shorts as well. However I'm way more addicted to consuming information. Text is where its at, (Tildes, HN, comments all over) maybe slightly less harmful compared to video but it's not good for sure.


i have to be measured when i use tiktok, undisciplined use leads to me lying in bed on my phone for hours. i noticed myself swiping up on videos i was interested in watching just because the content wasn't fast paced enough for me. usually using a fidget toy while watching a regular tv show helps a lot, but it can be difficult to 'retrain' my attention span


TL;DR /s

Hondolor avatar

I don't use tictoc but I've used youtube shorts and the short answer is yes. It actually scare's me a little how I can sit down and barely realize what I'm doing. The time just fly's by while you scroll through pointless stupid content

VoxAdActa avatar

2-10 minute videos are the worst. The information takes forever to get to and is super shallow, and most of them are going to be an advertisement for the youtuber I'm currently watching. A 30 minute video is fine. An hour long video, I'll watch happily. Hell, I've watched movie-length videos on cool subjects with no problem.

But if I have to sit through 90 seconds of "smash that bell, thanks to my new subscribers whose screen names I'm going to read one at a time" before getting a nugget of content that can't be more than a few seconds to a couple of minutes long, yeah, I have no attention span for that shit.

snarf avatar


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  • VoxAdActa,
    VoxAdActa avatar

    I guess. I'm watching YouTube to learn stuff, either documentary stuff or DIY stuff. But I'll be honest, other than funny skits that stopped being funny to me years ago, I can't imagine what kind of content would be interesting in a 2-3 minute burst.

    nightauthor avatar

    SponsorBlock (if available on your platform) is great for skipping that kind of annoying filler. It’s user reported so it can sometimes be a bit aggressive or just missing. But I have mine set specifically to only skipped sponsored segments and it works quite well on bigger channels. Sometimes getting tagged within minutes of publication.

    snarf avatar


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  • VoxAdActa, (edited )
    VoxAdActa avatar

    I started with 2-10. 2-3 is the amount of time for information that's left after cutting out the sponsorship ad, "hey its your boy/girl" intro speeches, "smash that bell" exhortations, recaps of their previous videos, tearful thanks to their subscribers and listing their new patreon patrons by name, the heartwarming/heartwrenching story that led them to decide to create this video, the second sponsorship ad, and the shitty outtro music/graphic.

    RickRussell_CA avatar

    I will admit to less patience for long videos & articles, but honestly I think there are good reasons for it. I've come to recognize when people are trying to stretch a topic and fill the void with useless puffery.

    With a thriving competitive market for information video and long-form journalism, you can't keep pulling that shit and expect people to sit through it, when the right arrow key is bit a few inches away from my hand.

    Chetzemoka, (edited )
    Chetzemoka avatar

    Do you watch TV? Then you still watch videos that are 30 mins or longer. The difference is the format and quality of those videos are better at capturing your attention, that's all. An hour long YouTube video that ISN'T structured like a TV show of some sort (like sketch comedy, news show, or a documentary) is just going to be a boring, terrible product.

    I think there's a temptation to think of "YouTube videos" as being that most common 2 to 10-minute talking head format. But you can't just expand that format out to an hour and have it continue to be as engaging. It needs to morph into a different kind of production.

    Here's one of my favorite hour long YouTube videos from a great teacher named Nick Zentner:

    He's so engaging that it doesn't feel anywhere near an hour long.

    Here's 40 minutes of Pedro Pascal and Steven Yuen just...talking to each other:

    Anything by Bobby Broccoli

    Just some of the actually good long-format YouTube videos I love to watch

    lechatron, avatar

    I noticed this the other day, I get sucked into Instagram reels and spend a lot of time just swiping, before I realize it I'm down a rabbit hole and lost track of time. I've found that when I try to watch a TV episode, even something that is 25ish minutes long I get distracted really easily. Sometimes even fiddling around with Instagram while watching. I'm trying to be more conscious of this but I definitely feel my attention span is getting worse.


    Sometimes I feel like that...

    But then I watch an hour long video about a man trying to improve his refrigerator, and I decide it's not worth worrying about.


    But then I watch an hour long video about a man trying to improve his refrigerator

    Yo you got a link to this?

    requies avatar

    The issue is the lack of long-form content's ability to interest you. Nobody hates watching long videos now, it's just that it's far harder to find interesting content on Youtube than it is to simply scroll on tiktok, watch a video for 10 seconds, like it, and then get recommended videos alike that one you just liked.


    Very much, yes. Why is that?

    I think it's because we got used to surround ourselves with high-pitched stimuli. Especially the digital world is designed to catch and keep our attention. There is kind of an evolutionary pressure for these services to develop in this direction, as those who manage to anchor themselves in our habits naturally displace others who don't. Yes, addiction is another interesting, related topic, but let's get back to attention span.

    There are things we'd like to do, which are beneficial and provide long-term rewards, but we find it's difficult for us to concentrate on them.

    Reading a book. Learning or playing an instrument. Studying, even for subjects which we find genuinely interesting. Spending time with people off-screen, talking with relatives or neighbors.

    These don't give you a kick every few seconds like an instagram feed. When scrolling through lemmy, you could find the next exciting thing at every moment! Maybe the next Tinder profile is hot, or even a match? Oh, what's that meme?

    I don't think short videos are particularly to blame or the root cause, I rather see them as one of many symptoms. Videos have to catch our attention with their thumbnail (which is often clickbaity exaggerated for that reason), and somewhat deliver the expected excitement, else the channel goes extinct.

    I found myself using my phone as a second screen when the video on the big screen fails to keep my attention (of course it's actually me failing to focus).

    Our brain gets used to what becomes our norm, lower-pitched stimuli seem less exciting in contrast. Yes, I could pick up my guitar and try to slightly improve my skills with that song, or reap the instant reward with just one more click, or just one more scroll.

    There is probably no alternative for the cure. Adjust the normal pitch so that the things you actually want to do seem like a really good idea. Actively abstain from being bathed in superficially exciting content, to make room for actually rewarding activities. Or in other words, embrace boredom.

    NewEnglandRedshirt, avatar

    Teacher here. I can absolutely see it in the attention spans of my students over the last few years vs those from even 5 years ago

    Tixanou, avatar

    that's so sad.

    Chetzemoka avatar

    I'm willing to bet pandemic isolation has a fairly large role to play in that

    IceSea, avatar

    Within the constraints of the job it might be impossible to implement any changes, but do you have any ideas how to keep students engaged for long term projects when they have these 2min-tik-tok attention spans? I'm asking as someone who sees this behaviour in younger colleagues that I try to educate as a senior... :D

    NewEnglandRedshirt, avatar

    So what I've found is that they need to be interested in doing whatever. As soon as it's "boring" they lose interest. In other words, nope, not a clue. Maybe earning a paycheck will help your colleague realize the importance, but I don't have any ideas that have worked. I try to make my lessons engaging, but I'm not a TikTok influencer, so ...

    IceSea, avatar

    maybe our generation (if we're even the same, lol) could just hide our boredom better :D But deep down we all needed that teacher who could keep us engaged... but who knows... :)

    NewEnglandRedshirt, avatar

    You called yourself a senior. I'm in my early 40s, so I doubt it. Engagement tricks that used ti work in the past don't seem to work anymore. That's the problem.

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