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Activate or not activate subtitles: why the subject divides generations ?

© Glenn Carstens-Peters – Unsplash

On social networks like TikTok or YouTube Shorts, many of the videos available have automatic subtitles. These are practical, since they allow you to watch videos without turning on the sound or when you are in a noisy place. And apparently, these platforms have standardized subtitles so much that a majority of young people today watch films or series in their native language with the text at the bottom of the screen.

For Generation X, “close captions”, or “subtitling for the deaf and hard of hearing” in French, are an accessibility feature. On the other hand, a majority of young people today would consider these subtitles as a norm. In a recent article, the Upwothy site relays a TikTok video which sparked more of 8,000 reactions, and in which a mother of 3 children (generation Z and generation Y) tells how she discovered this new trend. While she was about to watch a movie with her children, two of them asked her why the subtitles were not activated.

“I’m Gen X and all I could think about was because I’m not 70 yet. I even said it’s because we’re not at grandma’s house,” the TikTok user says. She even said she was shocked to know that these young people decided that it’s normal to see subtitles throughout the entire movie. In the video, she explains that thanks to the subtitles, you can continue to follow if someone starts talking.

The norm for a majority of young people?

In any case, this difference between the habits of young people and their parents is clearly highlighted by a study carried out in Great Britain, published by YouGov in 2023. Indeed, among 18 to 24 year olds, 61% indicated that they turn on subtitles, and 30% turn off subtitles. On the other hand, among those aged 25 to 49, it is the opposite: 31% activate subtitles and 61% deactivate them.

< p>The fact that young people who do not have hearing problems are adopting subtitles is a good thing, as it has an influence on the practices of the entertainment industry.< em> “Whether people use them because they are deaf, neurodivergent or to support literacy, it is clear that they help with concentration and make a positive difference in their experience”, explains Melanie Sharpe, CEO of Stagetext, a British NGO.

Stagetext has also published a study on the use subtitles, by the end of 2023. And for Sharpe, arts organizations must see the numbers as proof of the need to adopt subtitles as a standard.

  • Video platforms like TikTok or YouTube Shorts have accustomed young people to subtitles
  • To stay focused, they activate subtitles on films and series
  • On the other hand, in older generations, this is an accessibility feature
  • In any case, the trend is expected to have a positive influence on the entertainment industry

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Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116