An illustration of a woman watching StudyTube videos for an article about how StudyTubers can be harmful. (Illustration by Sonja Vasiljeva, San Jose State University)

StudyTubers May Be More Harmful Than Helpful for College Students

YouTube’s online studying community can be a great source of motivation, but it can also hinder your productivity.
March 12, 2021
8 mins read

A great resource for students who are looking for a place to receive free learning tips, academic advice and overall motivation to be more successful is StudyTube. This refers to a community on YouTube where YouTubers produce content all about studying, school and productivity. The content on StudyTube includes a wide range of topics, from “Study With Me” videos to constructive morning routines.

While StudyTube videos can be a great source of motivation, watching too many videos about studying and achieving one’s goals has the potential to be more harmful than helpful. As a person who has watched many StudyTube videos over the years, I’ve noticed three major problems with the way I consume and view content about productivity.

1. Using StudyTube To Procrastinate

The community is full of videos that give viewers advice on how to stop procrastinating, how to be more productive and how to find the motivation to complete school work. None of these video topics are inherently bad, and great videos have been produced about each of the topics. StudyTubers like Holly Gabrielle, Revisign and Ali Abdaal have all created high-quality videos that provide viewers with fantastic advice about how to avoid procrastination.

If these videos are so good, then why am I claiming that they can be more harmful to your academic progress than helpful? The problem comes in when you start watching multiple videos in a row on how to avoid procrastination. If you aren’t taking the advice from the videos and applying it to your life, they aren’t going to help you be a better student and stop procrastinating.

By watching multiple StudyTube videos in a row, you’re just using the platform as a way to delay your assignments. That defeats the purpose of watching the videos in the first place, since their goal is to motivate you and compel you to be efficient. To avoid this problem, watch one video, and actually try the advice given. That’s the only way watching StudyTube will improve your productivity.

2. Using StudyTube for a False Sense of Achievement

Whenever I find myself in a rut where I don’t have any motivation to do schoolwork, I turn to StudyTube. Ruby Granger is one of the StudyTubers I watch the most. Her degree is similar to the one I’m working on, and seeing her discuss literature with such passion fills me with excitement about my own schoolwork. Whenever I feel demotivated, Ruby Granger’s videos remind me why I study English literature in the first place, and that’s a valuable nudge in the right direction.

Watching videos from StudyTubers who are learning the same subject as you can remind you why you chose that course of study in the first place. Whether you’re interested in law, pre-med, nursing or marketing, there are videos from StudyTubers who are struggling through the same course work as you. However, this can become an issue if watching others’ productivity provides you with a false sense of achievement.

No amount of StudyTube videos will improve your productivity. Watching another person study on camera for their organic chemistry exam won’t help you pass yours. I know I’ve fallen into the trap of feeling accomplished just because I watched someone else complete their tasks online, even if I didn’t do anything besides sit in my bed watching the video.

Unless you use the motivation you gain from watching these clips and use it to propel you into a study session, they might hinder your academic success more than help it.

3. The Toxic Productivity of StudyTube

The first two sections of this article focused heavily on how StudyTube can prevent you from being successful, because it’s true. However, if watching StudyTube videos is just a way for you to unwind after a long day, there’s nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to spend every moment of your life being productive, even if some StudyTubers make it seem like working every hour of the day is the only way to be successful.

Unfortunately, toxic productivity and hustle culture are major cons of the StudyTube community. They’re also prevalent in college culture as a whole. It’s not uncommon for students to pull continuous all-nighters to keep up with their rigorous courses, clubs, work schedules and social lives. It’s easy to watch videos of StudyTubers who claim to spend up to 70 hours a week studying and feel like you’re not working hard enough.

We’re in the middle of a pandemic, and it’s important to acknowledge that many students can’t achieve unbelievably high standards right now. Life as an online student can be incredibly challenging, especially when students aren’t receiving proper help or guidance from their school’s faculty. With COVID-19, the rates of student stress and burnout are rising, and it feels practically impossible to keep up with college-level workloads while still maintaining one’s sanity.

This is a topic that should be discussed more within the StudyTube community, but depending on the videos you watch, it’s something that can be glossed over completely.

Overall, StudyTube is a nice place on the internet to visit when you need some motivation to focus on your schoolwork. It can also help you find advice on how to stop procrastinating for good, which can improve your life as a student. Or maybe watching a college student’s morning routine can give you ideas on what to add to your own schedule to help you make your mornings even more productive.

At the end of the day, it’s a nice environment, but there are still many problems with the content StudyTubers produce. Some issues, like not taking the advice from the videos you watch, fall on your own shoulders. But some videos perpetuate toxic productivity and hustle culture — and don’t acknowledge the way COVID-19 and online learning are affecting students — which are larger issues within the StudyTube community.

Hopefully, with these problems in mind, you can be more aware of the content you consume and notice whether or not it’s really helping you succeed.

Emma Watts, University of Arizona

Writer Profile

Emma Watts

University of Arizona
English and Political Science

My name is Emma Watts and I go to school at the University of Arizona. My majors are political science and English, so I spend about 80% of my time writing and reading.

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