YouTube is a medium that
YouTube is a medium that, more than any other, reflects who people are and what they’re passionate about. Content creators among this platform influence the behavior of teenagers in which is increasingly unprecedented. They are seen as role models and often recognized in the streets by their fans. As the world shifts away from a single sourced mass media dynamic, what people are watching, connecting and sharing with is increasingly born of individual experiences, relationships and perspectives. It challenges everyone to think differently about themselves and what entertainment can mean, and it represents a living and breathing community that is changing every day and reshaping the popular culture of an entire generation. According to a study from University of Twente, among teenagers who regularly watch YouTube, a number of respondents admitted that they feel interested “in what older YouTubers have to say about things” as it helps them to shape their own opinions and worldview on certain things such as design, beauty, games, relationships and conflict management (Westenburg 19). Although YouTube influencers may not affect all teenagers alike who watch its medium, it does help those in need of a personal relationship by building intimate experiences with its viewers. In this case, I believe Youtubers have a heavy influence upon teenage viewers behavior, identification, and pop culture in their daily lives.
To begin with, is the role Youtuber’s play in influencing teenagers’ behavior in daily life. Overall this influence is a positive factor with some insignificant negatives. It may be hard to realize that they have so much influence and can actually somewhat control the lives of teenagers. Teens get inspired and copy styles and behaviors of Youtubers, often unconsciously, like clothing, humor, or opinions. Teenagers learn practical tips and tricks they can use in their daily life. In support, a study from the University of Twente explains that “Some teenagers state that YouTubers have a positive influence on their mood and well-being. They learn to be positive and how to deal with problems like bullying, depression or parents who divorce (Westenburg 19).” Pulling from personal experience, there are many YouTube influencers that have helped myself in the same way. In lonely times during high school when I had no one to talk or relate to like a friend, these influencers established a connection that no one else was able to, influencing my daily life. I felt as if I had made a close friend that I could relate to when no one else was around to do so. These people shared their daily lives with the its viewers in which I felt as if I was apart of and grew attached to seeing them every day. Youtubers are able to fill a void of actions that would otherwise come with bad consequences. Teenagers imitate behaviors, like special hand signs, jokes, and ways of talking, as I myself have seen and done. Most influence YouTubers have on teenagers’ behavior is innocent. Sometimes however YouTubers perform actions in their videos that are against the rules. Teens may think it’s funny or cool and copy this bad behavior, which could get them in trouble. For example, pulling ignorant pranks on people like ding-dong ditching. Notably, teenagers attach much value to statements of YouTubers and ask personal advice through social media. Therefore, YouTubers have to be careful with their doings. They seem to avoid sensitive subjects like religion, sexuality and politics and minimize the use of drugs and alcohol in their videos for a family friendly environment.
Correspondingly, how teenagers identify and feel towards Youtubers is what really triggers their certain behaviors in my belief. If a YouTuber possesses qualities that teenagers adore, it’s more likely that teenagers identify with them and thus copy behavior. YouTubers are often about the same age as their audience. For them it’s easier to create content that fits the current trends of teenagers in this day and age. According to researchers of Stony Brook University, behaviors and beliefs are more contagious among those with shared social connections. Imitating others leads to social benefits, like bonding together in online communities. For example, the use of celebrities, such as YouTubers, to endorse and introduce products to certain types of people illustrates the influence the media possesses in shaping audience behaviors and actions. YouTube personalities relate better with people by being intimate with their viewers. They’re not afraid to be themselves whether they’re weird, goofy, or speak up on their views of very touchy and personal subjects. According to a study commissioned by Google, 40% of millennial YouTube subscribers say that their favorite content creators understand them better than their friends and 70% of teens admit that they can relate to those folks more than to traditional celebrities (Arnold). It seems that teens don’t immediately notice they have similarities with YouTubers other than age and hobbies like playing games, singing or practicing the same sports. However, there are some unconscious similarities that result in a connection with YouTubers. This could be living in the same country or city, going to the same school or both having similar family issues. Teens perceive YouTubers as normal as any other person who just earned fame in a way that everybody achieves (Westenburg). YouTubers are a good sense as a means to fill in a time gap in my opinion. In my daily life I immediately check what YouTube videos I’ve missed when coming back home from school. Some teenagers even can admit they have an addiction for YouTube.
Equally important is how YouTube personalities are shaping todays pop culture among millennials. YouTube’s focus has always been to “Broadcast Yourself” as its slogan. In today’s popular culture, broadcasting yourself has become so mainstream that those who don’t post videos on the Internet are often put out of social circles. Moreover, teens trust and relate to social media creators more than people made famous from film, television, sports or music. Why this is, is because they are on a more real and relatable level of social class per say. While traditional celebrities may have better name recognition with overall population, they aren’t building the kind of trust with young audiences that social media creators can construct. YouTube stars are becoming catalysts for important discussions and even focal points in our shifting cultural landscape. As a platform for social justice, it can no longer be ignored. The influence of YouTube personalities may fall flat with older generations who remain less exposed to the YouTube culture and prefer traditional media such as TVs and newspapers, but with millennials it’s at an all-time high (Allocca).
On the contrary, one’s personal views can greatly reflect how they view YouTube. Those who see YouTube as a place to share and watch a multitude of videos on various subjects embrace the media influence which YouTube brings. Yet, there are some that see YouTube as something which should be controlled in order to be maintained. It is only a negative idea to those who make it a negative idea; it is not necessarily negative by nature. To understand the way media is influenced by YouTube, it’s best to think about how one chooses to share what they learn or see on YouTube. Benefit only comes to those who use the platform to their likeliness. Acting as if YouTube is toxic only comes from what is chosen to be found that way. If someone chooses to watch something that they seem to disagree with or “hate “on, what benefit does that content bring to a negative viewer? No one is forced to go through change, adapt behaviors and ideas from content creators. Millennials who aren’t along with the trend are taking what resources they have available to them for granted, put simply.
Given these points, YouTubers play an important role in the life of teenagers who are active on YouTube. YouTube has become part of their daily life as they watch videos every day, go to meet and greets, are active in chats with other fans, talk to their friends about videos, own or follow fan accounts, buy merchandise and send supportive messages to their favorite YouTubers. Teenagers are unaware of the influence YouTubers have on them. Teenagers ask YouTubers for advice, want to buy things YouTubers promote and copy their actions, language and clothing. Each and every person among this audience has a valid purpose as to why YouTube makes them feel the way it does. It could just be a source of entertainment, or a getaway from reality. In the deeper meaning of things, YouTube is an influential escape for which millennials consume content in daily life whether it be positive or negative. The shape in which teens behaviors succumb is watching and learning, what is your influence?