Cat Videos: Purrfect for Families

Science proves what kids have known

As if American families needed scientific proof of this, a recent academic study confirmed what many moms, dads and kids (of all ages) have long known: Watching silly cat videos on the Internet is good for us.

A study by an Indiana University Media School researcher has found that viewing ridiculous, funny, nonsensical and silly cat videos (add in the adjectives of your choice) can boost our energy, increase our positive emotions and decrease our negative feelings.

Watching silly cat videos can boost our energy and positive emotions, and decrease our negative feelings.

In other words, gather ’round your mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or computer screen, folks, and indulge in a few crazy videos to your cat-lovin’ heart’s content.

The study, by assistant professor Jessica Gaill Myrick, examined the responses of some 7,000 people to a detailed questionnaire about their cat-video viewing and its impact on their moods. The survey was distributed on social media (naturally).

“Some people may think watching online cat videos isn’t a serious enough topic for academic research, but it’s one of the most popular uses of the Internet today,” Myrick, the assistant professor, said in a statement. “If we want to better understand the effects the Internet may have on us as individuals and on society, then researchers can’t ignore Internet cats anymore.”

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She added she could no longer ignore “this pop culture phenomenon.”

Over two million cat videos were posted on YouTube in 2014 alone. Those videos netted nearly 26 billion views.

If this sounds like catnip to rabid Internet fans, consider that over two million cat videos were posted on YouTube in 2014 alone. Those videos netted nearly 26 billion views. Cat videos actually had more views per video than any other category of YouTube content, according to a University of Indiana press release about the new research.

Recently a New York-based mom and her teenage son sat and watched a few silly cat videos together. It was an unscheduled, no-pressure and relaxing few moments in the middle of a packed weekend day. They hung out together, had a few laughs, and focused their attention on something neutral that had nothing to do with chores, curfews, cash or college tuition bills.

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“It was fun,” reported the mom. “It was just an enjoyable little bit of time together. I think as parents we cannot underestimate the value of kicking back a bit with our kids on something just so light, entertaining and inconsequential.”

The cat video study, published in the journal Computers in Human Behavior, has a few caveats. Its demo skewed heavily female and white and respondents’ average age was 39 years old. Survey respondents said they watched cat videos two or three times a week, mostly because they stumbled upon them by chance in their social feeds on Facebook, YouTube and Buzzfeed.

Also, cat owners were (of course!) more likely to click on cat videos compared to those who don’t own, care for or worship cats as so many millions of us do.

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meet the author

Maureen Mackey served as editor-in-chief and managing editor of LifeZette for nearly five years. Before that, she held senior editorial positions at major publications, helping The Fiscal Times win a MIN Award for Best New Site as managing editor and Reader's Digest win an American Society of Magazine Editors Award for General Excellence as book editor. Her work has appeared in Real Clear Politics, CNBC, A Fine Line, AARP Magazine, Yahoo Finance, MSN, Business Insider, and The Week, among other outlets. She is a member of the Newswomen's Club of New York and the American Legion Auxiliary.

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