Content Consumption on Student Performance

Doing schoolwork is hard enough in the Massapequa School District. With the rigorous load and vast amount of extracurriculars available to students, a lot of them find it difficult to complete all their schoolwork while balancing other aspects of their lives such as familial relationships, friendships, and indulging in hobbies. 

For many students in the twenty-first century, technology has become yet another obstacle to getting assignments done. With so many devices at students’ fingertips, it is easy to see how watching videos can seem more appealing than finishing a mountain of coursework. 

With the rise of YouTube and TikTok, Massapequa High School students are torn between consuming long-form or short-form content, respectively.

Long-form content is defined as videos longer than five minutes available to someone on their phone or computer. This includes applications such as Netflix, YouTube, Disney+, and other streaming services. Inversely, short-form content is characterized by videos shorter than five minutes that are prevalent on apps such as TikTok and Instagram (IGTV).

    In terms of procrastination, both forms of content can distract students due to their carefully curated algorithms that show users the type of videos the app determines that the users want to see. The algorithm decides what videos to recommend based on watch-time on previously watched videos as well as tracking what a person has searched for in the past.

As for what separates the two types of platforms, long-form content can distract students from doing their schoolwork due to its ability to draw in viewers for extended periods. Long-form content, like documentaries or deep dives, has an addictive nature because it can pique a student’s interest, keeping them engaged until they have a holistic understanding of a concept. 

Contrarily, short-form content has a different kind of addictive quality. Students can easily lose track of time while they scroll through dozens of different kinds of videos. A user might get a dopamine high from watching an entertaining video. Once the short video ends, the human brain may whisper “Watch another” to repeatedly get that instant gratification. This feedback loop traps a viewer in an app, possibly pausing the homework process for hours on end.

With all that in mind, which is more dangerous in terms of the amount of procrastination in Massapequa High School students: long-form content or short-form content?

Sixty eight Massapequa High School students were surveyed using the following questions through direct messaging. Do you watch more long-form content (television, movies, YouTube, etc.) or short-form content (TikTok, IGTV, etc.)? Do you procrastinate doing schoolwork by watching these videos at least once a week? Do you think consuming this type of content negatively impacts your schoolwork and/or grades?

Out of all the responses, 53% of the respondents reported that they watch more long-form content than short-form while 47% watch more short-form than long-form. One anonymous participant explained that they “prefer long-form” but they “consume more short content because it’s quicker and always there.”

In the group with participants who spend more time on long-form content, approximately 78% said they procrastinate doing coursework by watching longer videos.  One student who requested to remain anonymous expounded on their response, “I usually watch an episode when I get [home] almost every day from school, which sets back my homework schedule.”

Similarly, Senior Ari LoPresti expressed how long-form content “definitely” leads to them procrastinating their coursework. At an almost unbelievable margin, 100% of students who mainly watch shorter videos said that they procrastinate doing schoolwork due to their consumption. One anonymous student expressed embarrassment associated with their answer, “Yes to me procrastinating (although I don’t like to admit it)” while another student said that they procrastinate “to an unreasonable amount.”

In the long-form group, 33% of students reported that this type of procrastination negatively affects their performance in school. Massapequa Senior Ava Coscia reported that she watches “a moderate amount of long formatted videos,” but says, “Once it becomes too much where it interferes and even replaces work time… then it will negatively affect my grades.”

In the short-form group, about 88% of students explained that their content consumption negatively affects their grades and coursework. A student explained that they wished they could spend more time studying but watching TikTok videos is far more appealing to them. 

Based on this data set, a significant amount of Massapequa High School students procrastinate doing schoolwork by watching videos no matter the length. However, it is important to note that every participant who watches more short-form content reported that they procrastinate as a result of it. This could be due to the feedback loop that TikTok and IGTV algorithms exploit to keep a user hooked on the app; watching many videos back-to-back is more satisfying in the short term, making schoolwork seem even less appealing as time progresses. 

Additionally, a whopping 88% of students who watch more short videos reported a negative impact on their grades due to their content consumption. This is overwhelmingly concerning. Not only is short-form content considered more addictive to Massapequa High School students, but getting stuck watching these videos hurts their grades and school performance. 

Acknowledging the possible danger associated with short-form content consumption, students can try to prevent procrastination at the hands of an app like TikTok. Since self-control with closing the app may be an underlying issue with procrastination, a student may take it upon themselves to manually input the amount of time they want to spend on TikTok each day through the settings app on their phone. Doing this will prevent the user from opening an app after their daily time limit on the app has been reached.

If that seems extreme or like too much commitment, a student can employ the Pomodoro Technique to keep themselves doing work while taking TikTok breaks. The Pomodoro Technique instructs a student to spend 25 minutes doing work and once they finish, take a five-minute break, then repeat this pattern as many times as needed to get their work done. This method works well with short-form content apps because a student can still watch many videos during work interludes while being productive.

Procrastination is a difficult beast to get a handle on especially with so many media distractions in this day and age. But, understanding that one’s grades do not have to suffer due to their affinity for watching videos is the first step toward not letting an app dictate one’s life.

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