Short videos becoming addiction of choice for Vietnamese

By Luu Quy   June 11, 2022 | 05:09 pm PT
Short videos becoming addiction of choice for Vietnamese
A person watches a short video on TikTok. Photo by VnExpress/Luu Quy
Thanh Binh sometimes intends to surf social media for just a bit before going to bed but ends up spending hours watching short videos on TikTok and other platforms.

He works for a public relations company in HCMC and the nature of his job requires him to spend time on social media and learn about the latest online trends.

But one day he happened to see a short video playing automatically while scrolling down his For You page.

He watched the video and ended up spending the whole night immersed in short-format clips as the algorithm automatically kept coming up with interesting videos.

"It entices me to keep watching. I have to admit that short-form videos are addictive," he says.

Short-form videos have helped TikTok become one of the world's biggest apps and gain a huge user base in Vietnam.

Due to its popularity, other social media platforms have launched their own versions of short-format videos to capitalize on this growing market. They are called Reels on Meta's Instagram and Facebook and Shorts on YouTube.

Though these short-form videos are usually limited to 60 seconds, their creators say it takes hours to make them.

Thanh Thuy, a student in Hanoi, says, "It is hard to watch one video and then stop."

Thuy and her friends not only watch them but also want to create such videos themselves. So she often spends her spare time finding the right music to be used in the background in her clips.

She says: "Once I saw a viral trend on TikTok and ended up watching hundreds of videos related to it."

There are times when she catches herself scrolling down her For You page "mindlessly" without paying attention to the content.

Tuan Anh, 35, never thought that one day he would be hooked on short videos after having once dismissed them as childish.

He watched one short clip on social media to see what the hype was about and then it automatically suggested another video.

"I was just going to watch one clip but ended up spending an hour that day watching a bunch of short videos," he says.

"Since most of the videos did not allow me to fast forward, I sometimes waste a lot of time trying to make it to the end of the clip."

The interface of social media platforms is also one of the factors that motivate users to spend more time on short videos. On Facebook, after around three posts, a short video will appear in large size on the phone screen to entice users to watch.

After launching Reels, Instagram changed the interface to put the Reels button in the middle and prioritize display when users are browsing.

In its first quarter earnings report this year Meta said Reels now accounts for more than 20 percent of users' time on Instagram. Video types such as Reel also account for 50 percent of the time users spend on Facebook.

On YouTube, Shorts generates 30 billion views a day, four times the number last year, according to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.

TikTok does not disclose the number of daily views on the platform, but said last October it had reached one billion monthly active users.

Why are short videos addictive?

In 2021 online publication Bridge Chronicle quoted researcher Philipp Lorenz-Spreen of the Max Planck Institute for Human Development as saying that content is increasing in volume, prompting people to switch to new content more regularly.

"Hence, these platforms have created this format that precisely fits this time frame. On Instagram reels, you can scroll through millions of 10-15 seconds long videos effortlessly,"

Meanwhile, platforms also take advantage of this feature to hook users.

According to Tech Crunch, an American online newspaper, the recommendation algorithm is one of the reasons why TikTok is so addictive.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg has revealed that the content on Facebook, including Reels, is recommended by a powerful AI system, which increases the time users watch short videos.

But the dissemination of short videos has consequences.

According to research shared by Bridge Chronicle, short video platforms increasingly narrow users’ attention to certain content.

In Anh's case, data on his iPhone reveals that he spends dozens of hours a week on short-format video apps.

"I might have to set up a time limit on these apps, even delete them, since they can be huge time wasters," he says.

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