At some point, the world shifted. YouTube was born in 2005, and ever since has steadily risen into a media powerhouse by evolving and adapting to the desires of viewers. Originally, YouTube was meant to be a video dating site. After that failed, it became a space where people could post content on just about anything.
YouTube today is watched at an insane rate. As of 2016, around 1.3 billion people use YouTube. Nearly five billion videos are watched each day, and over the course of just one month 3.25 billion hours of video are watched.
So what about kids?
Well, as people continue to shy away from traditional media sources in general, children are moving with them. In fact, they are such a driving force that YouTube created the YouTube Kids app, first launched in the UK and Ireland, to placate them. This app contains a plethora of kid-friendly content while filtering out some inappropriate ads and videos.
In October 2015 alone, the top 20 children’s channels collected more than 5.2 billion views. YouTube is essentially playing catch up; they aren’t the ones trying to reel in children to go online to watch content. In fact, the massive amount of children now looking to YouTube for things to watch will likely put an onus on the company to continue to put an emphasis on their younger viewers.
Kids love YouTube, then. But why?
There are a few answers to this question. The first is perhaps the most obvious, because it is what YouTube brands itself on: the notion that any viewer can choose content that suits them, and that, if they so wish, they can then create their own content just as easily. When people post videos, others watch and often become inspired to do the same. YouTube feeds off of this, with each new, popular YouTuber becoming one of their thousands of individual moneymakers.
Kids go to YouTube because they can pick what they want to watch, and can feel more in control of the content compared to traditional media forms.
Children loving YouTube also leans into celebrity and playground culture. It is easy for kids, who are impressionable, to get attached to YouTube celebrities. YouTubers tend to come across as real, just making videos because they find it fun. Kids begin to feel as though they know the person, and as such will make a point to continue to watch them. Then later, on the playground, this knowledge is used as a sort of currency with other children. In today’s world, knowing all there is to know about YouTube can make a child an impressive specimen when talking to his/her friends.
With all of this becoming more and more important to children, the thought of growing up to become one of these YouTubers is a prevalent one. Indeed, many see this as a career path that is viable—if he did it, why can’t I?—as well as desirable. It appears to be a more simple route to fame and fortune. The kidsmediacentre completed an extensive research project on this phenomenon in 2016 called Hashtag Brand of Me.
Forget the movies, television, and DVD players—YouTube is the screen that all eyes are on now, and, at least for kids, that’s not changing any time soon.
Links to sources:
- Statistics: fortunelords.com/youtube-statistics/
- YouTube’s origins: mashable.com/2011/02/19/youtube-facts/#b4dhVlzOEkqU
- More statistics: theguardian.com/technology/2015/nov/19/youtube-is-the-new-childrens-tv-heres-why-that-matters
- Example of kids-focused YouTube channel: youtube.com/channel/UC3djj8jS0370cu_ghKs_Ong?v=oEtx3jF4n3c
- Image from MarComm News: marcommnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/KidsAppLogo.png
Media offers a world of entertainment and learning possibilities for children and youth. The kidsmediacentre explores kids' media futures and is committed to supporting cross-platform content producers in Canada to ensure the kids' media industry is vibrant, indigenous and committed to the healthy growth of children.