Many people spend hours every day watching YouTube videos. They might be teenagers, college students, or adults with jobs and responsibilities. Some people live off YouTube by creating content and making money from ads.
But what happens when you watch so many videos that it takes over your life? Is that normal? Is there such a thing as being addicted to YouTube?
YouTube addiction is real, but it’s not like other addictions. It’s more of an obsession than an addiction. If someone is obsessed with something, they always think about it and can’t stop thinking about it — even if they don’t want to be thinking about it.
For example, if someone is obsessed with chocolate chip cookies, they’ll think about them all day long and want to eat them all the time. But if they’re addicted to chocolate chip cookies, they’ll feel like they can’t live without them (or at least not without going through withdrawal).
The same thing goes for YouTube: If you’re obsessed with it, then you think about it all day long and want to watch videos whenever possible, but if you’re addicted to YouTube, then you feel like you need to watch videos.
That said, many questions might be floating around in your mind now. Is it possible to be addicted to YouTube? Should it be considered an addiction? Can I help people break this behavior? Let’s do some research.
What Is YouTube Addiction?
YouTube addiction is a psychological disorder that has become increasingly common in recent years. It is characterized by excessive or compulsive use of video-sharing websites, which can cause problems in everyday life.
Signs You’re Addicted to YouTube
When you’re addicted to YouTube, certain signs can help you recognize that you have a problem.
- You spend hours watching videos every day.
- You feel guilty when you don’t have time to watch videos.
- You get upset if someone tells you to stop watching videos.
- You make excuses for why it’s okay to spend so much time watching videos.
- Spending time with family members or friends feels like too much effort because it interferes with your viewing experience.
- You often say, “Just one more video,” multiple times daily.
- The thought of not having Internet access makes you anxious or depressed.
- You watch videos secretly because you feel guilty about how much time you spend on YouTube, but then you binge-watch when no one is around.
- You feel like something is wrong with yourself because your friends and family think your relationship with YouTube is unhealthy — but they don’t fully understand why.
Is YouTube Addiction a Bad Thing?
When you think of addiction, you probably think of alcohol or drugs. You may even think of gambling or shopping addictions. But what about something like YouTube? Is it possible for someone to become addicted to this medium? The answer is yes!
People who become addicted to YouTube spend hours every day watching videos that do not make sense. They may watch videos repeatedly without stopping to break their screen time. They may neglect other activities to sit in front of their computer screens for hours at a time, trying to find more information about whatever subject they are interested in.
YouTube addiction is different from other types of addiction because there are no physical consequences associated with the behavior. However, some adverse effects still come from watching videos on YouTube for too long. These include:
Increased social isolation – Spending too much time alone can cause loneliness and make you feel like you have no friends or family members who care about you. This can lead to depression and anxiety, as well as an increased risk of suicide attempts among teens who are already depressed or have problems with anxiety or self-esteem issues.
Depression and anxiety – People who feel lonely or isolated may turn to watching videos on YouTube to escape their loneliness by becoming absorbed in watching other people having fun or engaging in activities they would like to be doing instead of being alone all day long at home.
So, the answer to whether YouTube addiction is bad is relative. It depends on the person who is watching the video content. It can be a problem if you are using YouTube as an escape. However, using it as an educational tool or a way to make money is not a problem.
How to Stop Your YouTube Addiction?
There’s a reason why YouTube is one of the most popular websites in the world. It’s fun! You can watch tutorials on how to cook or learn about your favorite band, discover new music, and even get some inspiration from people who are just like you. But if you’re spending too much time on YouTube, it could be costing you in more ways than just time.
If you feel like you’ve lost control of your YouTube addiction, there are steps that you can take to break free from its clutches. Here are some things to try:
- Recognize When You’re Hooked on YouTube. This is easier said than done because it’s not always obvious when you’re getting sucked into a rabbit hole of videos. But it could be time to step back and reevaluate your relationship with YouTube if you constantly check the platform throughout the day — even if it’s just out of boredom.
- Set Limits – Set a time limit for watching YouTube videos each day. If you can’t watch them during work hours, ensure they don’t bleed over into the evening. You might even want to set the alarm on your phone to know when it’s time to stop watching!
- Find Alternatives – After setting your limits, find other activities that can take their place. Try reading or cooking instead of watching videos at night or during lunch breaks at work. You could also try making YouTube videos yourself — there are plenty of tutorials online on getting started!
- Take Breaks When You Need Them – It’s also important to take breaks when needed so that you don’t feel overwhelmed by all of the information available on YouTube and end up getting sucked in for hours without realizing it!
- Turn Off Autoplay When You Open the App or Website – Autoplay is one of the biggest reasons people watch YouTube videos. You open up your app or website, turn on autoplay and watch five videos in a row before realizing there are no good ones left to watch.
Internet psychologists agree that YouTube usage, specifically, can be highly addictive. The constant barrage of new videos keeps us returning for more, searching for that perfect video to watch next.
On top of this, YouTube provides us with endless opportunities to keep viewing—a constantly growing list of subscriptions to manage and updates from subscribed channels when they post a new video. Moreover, YouTube is an easy way to kill time and distracts us from our daily troubles and stresses.
Ultimately, YouTube is both good and bad; it depends on how we choose to use it.
- Petry, N. M., Zajac, K., & Ginley, M. K. (2018). Behavioral addictions as mental disorders: To be or not to be? Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 14(1), 399–423. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-clinpsy-032816-045120
- Pies R. (2009). Should DSM-V Designate “Internet Addiction” a Mental Disorder? Psychiatry (Edgmont (Pa. : Township)), 6(2), 31–37.