by ELIZABETH PALERMO, LIVE SCIENCE
Internet cat videos don't just result in major "LOLs," they also deliver significant health benefits, a new study suggests.
That's right: Watching the online antics of Lil Bub, Grumpy Cat, Colonel Meow and all their kitty friends can boost your energy level, heighten your positive emotions and decrease your negative feelings, according to Jessica Gall Myrick, a media researcher at Indiana University in Bloomington.
"Some people may think watching online cat videos isn't a serious enough topic for academic research, but the fact is that it's one of the most popular uses of the Internet today," Myrick 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."
Nearly 2 million cat videos were posted to YouTube in 2014 alone, according to Myrick, who noted that these videos received almost 26 billion views. In fact, cat videos received more views per video than any of YouTube's other content categories, Myrick's research suggests.
Myrick tapped into the overwhelming popularity of cat videos to conduct the study, which relied on survey results from approximately 7,000 cat video viewers.
The participants in the survey said they felt more energetic and more positive after watching cat-related online media than they had before tuning in. They also reported feeling fewer negative emotions — including anxiety, annoyance and sadness — after viewing their favorite Internet cats.
Myrick's study was published online June 12 in the journal Computers in Human Behavior. The report follows an earlier study in which Japanese researchers reported that looking at images of cute animals can improve workers' performance on the job by increasing their attention and promoting careful behavior.