What does YouTube do to young children

10 years of YouTube - what is my child doing there?

The first video “Me at the Zoo” is not very spectacular: It shows the co-founder of Youtube in front of two elephants, on which he explains that the special thing about these animals is the long trunk. After 18 seconds the clip is over. And yet it has already been clicked over 21 million times. Because it is the beginning of a media success story and the largest video portal in the world: Youtube. The Youtube.com page is registered on February 15th, 2005, and the said clip is uploaded on April 23rd, 2005. Today, 300 hours of video material are added every minute, and the video service has over 1 billion users worldwide.

Fascination Youtube

Youtube is now an integral part of the everyday life of most young people. As the JIM study 2014 shows, the platform is the most popular online offer among German young people between the ages of 12 and 19: 30 percent use the site frequently, followed by Facebook in second place.

True to the motto “Broadcast yourself” (freely translated: “send yourself”) and the name YouTube itself (freely translated: “you send”), many are not only consumers of clips by searching for keywords or subscribing to channels, but rather are also producers by uploading clips and running their own channels. They are the new stars, as the astronomical number of clicks and the large fan audience at the video days show.

The most popular YouTube channels in Germany include those of people around 20, such as advisor Sami Slimani, the singing twins DieLochis, video player Simon Unge or the fashion blogger Daaruum. This also shows which type of clips are particularly popular: tutorials from technology or beauty experts, Comdey and Let's Plays. Youtubers are often role models, best buddy, big brother and surrogate parent all rolled into one. Young people feel closer to them than pop stars or TV beauties, as they speak directly to their fans and communicate with them on YouTube and other social networks and also advise them in case of grief.

Unreflective self-presentation

But such role models can also encourage many children and young people to unreflectively present themselves. Live streams are particularly critical, i.e. when children and young people present themselves in real time, for example via the YouNow app. It is therefore always important to consider whether this video can be released into the world before uploading it. The personal rights of others must also be taken into account if these can also be seen on the video.

Protection of minors issue

And of course, not all videos are suitable for children and teenagers. For this reason, parents of younger children should use age-appropriate portals such as juki and, in the case of older children and adolescents, pay attention to child protection settings on video portals. Youtube offers a “safe mode” via Google so that children are shown no content or only content appropriate to their age for unsuitable search terms. YouTube also offers a parenting guide for this. However, this function is easy to deactivate and the filtering of the large number of videos is not always guaranteed.

Commercialization and Hidden Advertising

Some Youtubers are so well known that they make a lot of money with their videos. They get a portion of the revenue from advertising that is displayed before and during their videos. Some also operate targeted product placement, as is particularly evident from the trend in which young people hold their purchases in front of the camera. These videos are called “haul”, in English “yield”. This remedy is very popular with fashion and lifestyle youtubers. To what extent you will get money from the advertised brands often remains in the dark. Only sometimes is there a hint that it is a “sponsored post”.

This shows: 10 years after it was founded, Youtube has also become a billion-dollar business. Companies want to reach young buyers via the YouTube stars and are scrambling for the next viral hit on the net. Other companies try to make their ad look like a user video. This happened in the black and white video “First Kiss”, in which strangers apparently kissed for the first time. In retrospect, it turned out that these are cast actors who advertise for a fashion company.

Networks like Mediakraft professionally raise YouTube stars and market them profitably. The Youtuber Unge, who publicly resigned from the network and accused of exploitation, made headlines here in an interview with Spiegel Online. The Youtuber LeFloid has also published a statement on this. It's the big crux in the business of bloggers, YouTubers and Instagram starlets: How can I capitalize on myself without destroying my credibility and thus the basis of my success?

Intolerant comment culture

It's not always friendly on YouTube either. Many users express very clearly when they dislike a video or a Youtuber, often combined with insults or even threats. There are also many homophobic or racist remarks. Under the hashtag “YouGeHa”, for “Youtuber against hatred”, some channel operators have started a campaign.

Unresolved copyrights

There is also rumbling elsewhere: In Germany, YouTube has been arguing with the collecting society Gema about remuneration for music videos for years. This is why users often find this message when they search for music videos, for example: “This video is not available in your country”. Caution also applies to producers: copyright material is not to be used, even if only music is playing in the background.

5 tips for parents

  • Check offers: view content together and keep talking about it.
  • Activate child protection: Activate security settings on the device and in the browser and install child protection programs. The “KinderServer” is recommended for browsers, and youth protection apps for mobile devices.
  • Think first, then upload: Talk to children about self-presentation and privacy.
  • Filter content: Activate "Safe Mode" and, if possible, secure it with a PIN.
  • Report content: Report non-adult offers to the youth protection officer on the website or reporting points such as jugendschutz.net and i-KiZ.de.




Created on May 7th, 2015, last changed on May 7th, 2015