The YouTube algorithm does such a great job of predicting videos you’ll like and recommending them to you, that it’s incredibly easy to spend hours a day on the platform without realizing it. If you’re curious how much time either you, or maybe your kids, spend on the platform, you can easily see how much time an account has spent on YouTube over the last seven days. You should note, however, that these stats don’t include time spent using either YouTube Music or YouTube TV.
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Steps to See How Much Time You Spend Watching YouTube
- Launch the YouTube mobile app on your iPhone, iPad or Android device, and then tap your profile icon to open a menu.
- Tap “Time Watched.”
- The Time Watched screen is displayed, where you can see how much time you’ve spent watching YouTube on a daily basis over the last seven days. Again, these stats don’t include time spent on either YouTube Music or YouTube TV.
Why Do People Spend So Much Time Watching YouTube?
According to Statista, the average amount of time users spent on YouTube after initiating a session in March 2021 was nearly 30 minutes. This is a staggering number given that 122 million people visit YouTube every day, and the platform has 2.6 billion active users as of 2023 (according to Demand Sage). So with those numbers as context, let’s look at some common reasons why people spend so much time watching YouTube.
YouTube offers a variety of content (music, gaming, tutorials, comedy, vlogs, product reviews, sports and fitness, food and cooking, beauty and fashion, and more).
2. Ease of Access
YouTube is accessible on a large number of device types. Users can easily consume YouTube on a TV, computer, smartphone or tablet. With the rollout of YouTube Shorts, YouTube is even getting better at not just making it’s content available on different devices, but optimizing content for those devices.
3. Recommended Content
Something YouTube does incredibly well is recommending content to people that’s personalized based on their interests and previous viewing history. YouTube’s primary methods of recommending content are through a user’s YouTube home page and through suggested videos. Further, YouTube enables it’s autoplay feature by default, so when whatever video you’re watching finishes, you’re automatically served another video.
4. Content Authority and Trust
YouTube makes it easy for the people who watch YouTube videos to interact with the people who make the videos. As a result, if you have a question after you watch a video, you can ask it in the comments, and there is a chance the creator will respond. Content creators who interact with viewers, make high-quality content (as reflected by high watch time and a high number of likes), and who consistently make that content, build up an authority and a trust with their fans. This authority and trust brings users back to watch more of their videos, and inspires them to share that content with other people, expanding their base of viewers.
What Are the Negative Impacts of Watching Too Much YouTube?
In line with the maxim that too much of a good thing can be bad for you, it’s possible to watch too much YouTube. Spending too much time watching YouTube can negatively impact you in the following ways.
1. Reduction in Productivity
Spending a ton of time on YouTube likely means that you aren’t doing other things that you should be doing, such as focusing on work, school, spending time with your family, or a number of other important things.
2. Reduced Physical Activity
The more time you spend watching videos, the less time you’re likely spending being active and moving around. A meaningful reduction in physical activity can lead to long-term health problems.
3. Poor Sleep Quality
A lot of people have the habit of watching YouTube before going to bed. While this isn’t bad if you do it for a short period of time, the blue light given off by your device’s screen can negatively impact melatonin production, which will result in reduced sleep quality. This article from the Daily Mail found watching YouTube before bed had a significant impact on teenagers. You can reduce the impact of watching YouTube videos at night by turning on the dark mode feature in the YouTube app.
Because YouTube does such a great job of recommending content for each individual person, there’s the very real risk that someone gets addicted to YouTube. This could result in someone spending considerably more time than the average person does watching content on the platform.
5. Impact to Social Life
The more time someone spends watching YouTube videos, the less time they spend interacting with people in the real world. This can result in lost friendships, a negative impact on family life, and more.
6. Exposure to Inappropriate Content
One criticism of YouTube’s content suggestion engine is that it can be manipulated by bad actors who post extreme or inappropriate content to recommend that content. The greatest risk is that this inappropriate content is presented to kids. While YouTube does make it possible to block specific users from being recommended to you and gives you the ability to block inappropriate content from being presented to you, those options are far from perfect. As a result, the more time you spend on the platform, the higher the likelihood that you’ll almost certainly encounter inappropriate content.
What Can Users Do to Spend Less Time on YouTube?
1. Set Time Limits
Because Google recognizes the opportunity for people to get addicted to the platform, it offers the Take a Break feature on the platform where you can set a daily limit for how much YouTube you can watch before you get a warning message. The feature is disabled by default and needs to be turned on.
2. Turn Off Autoplay
Disabling the YouTube autoplay feature will ensure that you won’t be served another video after the video you actively chose to watch completes.
3. Find Other Activities
Actively seek out other activities you enjoy engaging in, and block out time to do those activities. This is a great way to make sure you’re filling your time with something other than just watching YouTube videos.
4. Disable YouTube Notifications
One way YouTube pulls you onto the platform is by sending you notifications. Turning off YouTube notifications is a great way to spend less time on the platform.
5. Uninstall the YouTube App
Removing the YouTube app from your mobile devices will almost certainly force you to spend less time on the platform. If uninstalling the YouTube app ends up to be a bridge too far, you can always reinstall it again later.