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Why Subtitles And Closed Captioning Are Not Just For The Hard Of Hearing

Why Subtitles And Closed Captioning Are Not Just For The Hard Of Hearing

Choosing to watch programmes with closed captioning is not annoying, its beneficial.

Maya Suraya

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I’ve noticed in recent years that I’ve been watching TV shows and movies with the subtitles* on, and they aren’t even programmes in another language!

It’s come to a point where if I don’t watch a programme without subtitles turned on – I feel a little lost.

Turns out, having subtitles on is a good thing despite these kinds of memes.

And the reasons go far beyond being hard of hearing too.

So, who’s with me on #TeamSubtitle?

*Subtitles are intended for viewers who can’t understand the language being spoken while closed captioning is intended for viewers who can’t hear the audio. For the purpose of this article, I’m referring to both as ‘subtitles’.

It allows you to concentrate better on a show

Listening requires extra resources on the brain to work hard to process information.

For some, it’s hard enough to have a conversation with one person so imagine watching a long movie and trying to keep up with a storyline involving several people.

This is especially helpful for shows with fictional names, or strong accents.

For journalist Sean Neumann of the online publication The Outline, subtitles saved his relationship with Game Of Thrones by allowing him to read and process the huge amounts of information in each episode.

It takes you away from your phone

(Credit: Dean Moriarty / Pixabay)

In line with how it makes you concentrate better on what you’re watching, one of life’s biggest distractions these days is the mobile phone.

How many of us have been guilty of scrolling social media or chatting on WhatsApp while watching a show? 🙋

Once you rely on subtitles, you won’t be turning to your phone as much anymore.

Ever notice how when watching a foreign language movie that requires subtitles you tend to pay attention more, simply because you have to to understand.

It’s a similar concept which I find very useful. Like reading a book!

It introduces you to new content

Subtitles in videos helps turn you on to new content on social media.

Social Media Manager Christina McDermott tells the Guardian that 85% of Facebook videos are watched without sound and thus with subtitles.

From an industry perspective, she says adding subtitles can hook in casual viewers.

Christina says, “we’re always looking for the ‘thumb-stoppers’ – bits of short video that will make people stop what they’re doing and watch until the end.”

Her explanation sounds about right, because how many of us have turned into fans of various content creators on Social Media that we never thought we’d follow, but somehow through the clever use of subtitles, here we are.

It links to increased levels of literacy

(Credit: Annushka Ahuja / Pexels)

Watching subtitled videos have huge benefits for children and adults as it can help boost reading, comprehension and language skills.

Research also shows that subtitles can create automatic reading behaviour.

A key finding of eye-tracking research on subtitling shows that viewers who have some decoding ability – even partial letter-to-sound correspondence – cannot ignore subtitles and will exhibit automatic reading responses.


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