Youtube’s Impact on Teens & Society


(Photo Source: Scott Hofford)


The entertainment industry is constantly changing with each new generation, and today, one of the biggest platforms is YouTube. Whatever you want, whether it’s a funny vine, a tutorial on how to do your math homework, or your favorite content creator, it’s all in the same place. With these endless possibilities comes freedom to every person on YouTube to any content that they want.

Teenagers and adolescents, in general, are highly susceptible to influence of any kind, but are especially affected by trends in popular media. Creators on social media, being fittingly referred to as “influencers,” have a responsibility to know their audience, which is often younger, and be heavily impacted by their idol’s public behaviors.

This power can only reach so far though, as it is ultimately the viewer’s choice what they watch. Does this freedom have the potential to corrupt young minds?

You have an essay due tomorrow. Sitting down to do it, your mind wanders to your phone.

“Just one video,” you say. “It’ll only be a minute.”

Next thing you know, it’s two hours later and you’re somehow watching a blackhead extraction compilation. Sound familiar? It’s the addictive nature of Youtube at work.

Another addictive factor of the YouTube platform is its tendency to breed drama.

Anyone familiar with YouTube can think of at least one creator mainly known for his or her controversies. Often, these same people have a massive following, many of which are adolescents. These influencers’ actions, whether it be crazy stunts with the potential to harm others, or constant profane or offensive language, can be harmful to young minds. Seeing these behaviors being praised by the millions is hazardous, as young people could mirror this behavior and expect a similar approval.

YouTube often gets a bad reputation for these issues. However, it is often overlooked how positively impactful YouTube can be as well.

YouTube is a great platform for those who wish to spread a positive message and share their passions with the world, as their voices have the potential to be heard by millions of people. Many of the biggest YouTubers have used their pedestal to make an impact in the world around them, and become activists for causes they care about. Some of these include Tyler Oakley, who made a fundraiser on his birthday towards The Trevor Project, which is a charity supporting and improving the lives of LGBTQ youth. Another is Colleen Ballinger, who annually hosts online giveaways, donating proceeds to childhood cancer. Children and teens seeing their favorite influencers making a difference in the world is inspiring and spreads the message that anyone can take action on issues one is passionate about.

These YouTubers also can inspire their audiences to pursue things that interest them.

A common stress on teens this generation is thinking about the future. Adulthood to many is a looming pressure of uncertainty, asking questions like, who am I? Who do I want to become? What do I want to do with my life? This may be a surprise to some, but YouTube is often a place of self-exploration. YouTube is home to billions of people with completely different lives, recording and sharing them for all to see. It is important to realize that the individuals we love and follow, and the topics we are interested in learning more about are not coincidences. YouTube is a powerful tool to find what dreams we want to chase, and that it is possible to achieve them.

When asked about the impact of YouTube in the world and her own life, Hannah Grinnell, a junior at Pentucket, said:

“…discovering communities of people on YouTube that are interested in the same things as I am has reinforced my sense of self in a way. It’s nice to know that there are other people that listen to the same music as you, have the same aspirations, etc. To be able to find and engage in a community of like minded people is something YouTube has made more accessible and I think that’s a very positive thing.”