Video portals are among the most popular sites that children and young people use in the digital world today. The selection of portals and platforms out there is very large. In addition to established video portals such as YouTube or Periscope, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, YouNow and Snapchat are making it possible to upload video material to their portals as well. Portals that enable live streaming are also becoming ever more significant online.
Especially for young users, live broadcast offers new and exciting incentives. Children and young people are not only consumers who watch clips or take part in the life of the Internet stars, but they use social media more independently. But important problem areas, such as the protection of minors, thoughtless self-promotion, copyrights and the increasing commercialization of social services are often ignored.
Platforms such as YouTube are the leading medium for young viewers today. But it’s young media users who are changing their media use behavior the most. Snapchat and Periscope, for example, have a different concept than YouTube. They don’t offer their users a wide range of functions. Snapchat, for instance, is about streaming short videos, which self-delete after a short time.
Many “role models” for children and young people don’t just present their clips on video platforms like YouTube but want to get in touch with their followers. The video stars not only encourage their followers who upload videos to comment but make reply videos and upload those in response. But this relatively direct interaction between users and YouTuber raises many questions which require clarification: What information ought I better keep to myself? What are the consequences a video can have? How aware am I about the personal rights of others, in particular, when I’m shooting live video?
What video formats are successful?
YouTube is still the most popular video portal among children and adolescents. Long known mainly as a portal for music videos, there are many genre categories that the uploaded videos can fall into: from comedy to tutorials. The range is huge!
Many adults heard about this genre for the first time with the ice bucket challenge. Here YouTubers challenge others and demonstrate their challenge. These challenges can be sporty, but also just plain bizarre. While many challenges are harmless, some are dangerous – such as the cinnamon challenge, for example, in which a person tries to swallow a tablespoon full of cinnamon, without anything to drink. This has already led to several medical emergencies.
Comedy is one of the most popular genres. All kinds of parodies, funny animals or people, slapstick, animations and pranks are shown here. But lots of clicks are also generated by embarrassing “fail” videos, in which people or animals have clumsy accidents, and that’s not very funny.
Haul means “catch” or “spoils” and it refers to videos in which YouTubers present their newest purchases, mostly cosmetics, clothes and accessories. The products are described in detail. YouTubers try the items out on camera. Then they share the price and where they bought it. OOTD stands for “outfit of the day.” In these videos, the YouTuber presents the outfit that he or she is wearing that day. Some hauls and OOTDs are sponsored by big companies. That means that these videos are nothing other than paid advertising.
In let’s play videos, YouTubers present various video games (like Minecraft) or physical games and toys while commenting on them (often live). Viewers can watch the game and comment on the game play. That way, they can learn about the new games or get tips and solutions for those games.
On YouTube new rankings are put together for different topics all the time, like the ten best, most embarrassing, or dumbest things that happen for one thing or another. Sometimes the ranking clips have running commentary by the posting YouTuber.
A “talking head” is something of a chatterbox. The best-known example is currently LeFloid, who comments on headlines, news and various events. Other “talking heads” talk about computer games, movies and music. The goal is often to convey (background) information and to stimulate discussion.
From makeup tips to a digital piano lesson, from technical tips to the solution for a math problem: On YouTube, there are many practical video tutorials for almost every age group. Many of these tutorials are very well made and can be extremely helpful. But viewers should always be wary of the tutorial maker’s credibility. Do they know what their talking about? Remember: Comparing tutorials is the smart way.
Protection of minors while streaming
Children and young people should know that videos and other content presented do not necessarily disappear, but can be recovered relatively easily. Live-stream channels like Periscope, but also Meerkat or YouNow, reduce the barrier for going live on the net. Often the live broadcast results, therefore, in videos in which children and young people get into situations without thinking about it first. And the feed is already online and can no longer be deleted. The goal of many live streams is to get lots of likes and comments while broadcasting. Users turn to social media as a form of self representation.
Most video portals are only approved for teenagers age 13 and up. However, often no exact age verification is done on the provider’s side. The job of checking the individual channels and to set the parental controls is therefore mostly in the hands of the parents.
Marketing and advertising
Successful Internet stars generate a portion of their revenue from advertising that will be shown before and during their videos. Some also get sent products to feature in their posts and comment on. This approach is popular with fashion and lifestyle experts, who present their “hauls,” their product purchases, or cosmetics that they show how to use. Only a few of these clips actually hint though that they are indeed making “sponsored posts” or doing “product placement.” Advertising content is therefore all the more difficult to identify for children and young people. This has to be discussed with children and youngsters so that they don’t go out and spend their money without knowing any better.
Read more in the dossier “Video Portals”