Why cute animal videos are so much more than entertainment

If you’ve been surfing the internet for years, there’s no way you’ve missed it. Videos of cute animals are abound online and their virality is almost unmatched. If the phenomenon is clearly not new, it has further amplified in recent years on platforms like Instagram or TikTok.

Ghalia Shamayleh and Zeynep Arsel, researchers at Concordia University in Montreal, returned in an article by The Conversation on what is customarily called the “cute economy”. Far from being limited to pure entertainment, this content also generates astronomical amounts and the market would bring in several billion dollars each year.

Are cute animal videos good for our mental health?

Many designers have made a profession of this concept by creating social network accounts for their pets that they dress and film. They become real influencers and their image is expertly worked with profiles that sometimes have several million subscribers. Others specialize in memes and only broadcast videos of animals gleaned from the Internet, sometimes freeing themselves from copyright.

Overall, the researchers identified characteristics common to these publications:

We have found that the cuteness of animal content is represented by the following archetypes: goofy or silly animals, small or young animals, cross-species content, child-animal pairs, extreme sizes and ratios (very small or very large), looks unusual patterns and behaviors of animals that we consider to be human.

Scientists have also listed the benefits of this content. Certain Internet users indeed use these videos to benefit from visual and soothing contact with the animals without having to domesticate them.

The “cute economy” can also serve as a driver of change. By showing certain endangered species, this can thus help to raise awareness among the general public on the need to protect animals or grant them rights.

Scientific research has also documented for a while now that watching videos of cute animals is good for our mental health. Moreover, sending these publications to another person can help start a conversation and can therefore create social links. A characteristic far from being negligible in a period of pandemic where meetings are sometimes difficult.

The researchers do not forget to mention the dark side of the “cute economy” either. Some creators have no qualms about exploiting and mistreating their animals to obtain attractive content. When you spot these videos, it is essential to never share them so as not to encourage these practices.

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