How YouTube Addiction Is Damaging Generation Z
What's YouTube Addiction?
Are you a parent with a young teen/adult who is constantly on their laptop or phone looking at YouTube videos?
If you said yes, then you're not alone.
The rise of YouTube has become a phenomenon since its launch in late 2005 and more kids and teens than ever have embraced its status.
YouTube was once a platform where anyone could post a harmless video. A lot of the early videos were focused on soundtracks, playlists, and the occasional "funny cat" video.
That has changed in the past few years as millions and millions of video files are being downloaded daily. More people than ever are using YouTube to monetize original content and build their brand.
This has lead to a rise in internet celebs or e-celebs that have grown as more and more young adults subscribe and watch their content.
The combination of this has created a growing YouTube addiction that may someday end up on par with gambling disorder and even drug & alcohol addition if not stopped.
The Growth of Internet Fame
Lately YouTube has become such a powerhouse that it's starting to take over traditional television and cable shows especially among younger generations.
It's hip to be a YouTuber or watch videos on the site if you're a young adult.
In fact, many teens view it as their personal platform that adults and older folks can't or shouldn't access. As mentioned, the fame of e-celebs played a huge role in garnering teens' attention to the point where becoming a youtuber is now the most sought after Generation Z career.
Many of today's emerging YouTube stars are older teens or young adults themselves, which strongly attracts the younger demographic. Teens subscribe to a variety of these "stars" and watch numerous videos on both their main and/or vlog channel.
The combination of YouTube and social media has helped carve these new celebs, and teens are beginning to love them more than the "traditional" celebrities.
Having a plethora of content and likability helps teens connect with YouTubers, however; this can also fuel addictive behaviors.
The Influence of Social Media
One of the reasons why young adults today are so addicted and enamored with e-celebs is because they're more connected to their audience than a regular celebrity might be (at least that's what kids and teens perceive).
There is truth to that because unlike traditional celebs, e-celebs had to create and build an audience from scratch to gain their stardom.
The amount of personal branding they've created (manly by themselves) inspires their subscribers, and the YouTubers content is always rolling out.
E-celebs often use Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and Instagram to both promote and connect with their fan-base even though realistically a fan isn't likely to get a response if they send a comment/tweet.
There's a perceived notion that e-celebs are more likely to interact with you because they tend to use a lot more social media sites than other celebs.
Video Surfing & Internet Addiction
Is a YouTube addiction the same as an internet addiction?
The internet is so huge that it has broken off into various sections, thus so have the addictive behaviors. Remember when television used to be the great kidnapper of children.
Parents would yell at their children to turn off the TV and play outside, however; this time technology has made that virtually impossible.
Children no longer need to be at home to view their favorite shows, and YouTube has made sure of that.
Through a smartphone, a laptop, an iPod, or a Tablet, kids can view as much videos as they want without parental guidance.
This complicates matters further because there's so many inappropriate things on YouTube that kids are growing up on, which is quite scary.
To make matters worse, a lot of the video surfing is done by young kids (some as young as four or five).
If parents aren't attentive, then their children could be viewing videos that are very damaging to their young, undeveloped minds.
The Weird Side of YouTube
Are all television shows G or PG rated?
In the past, kids were able to view plenty of inappropriate television shows unless parents took action to lock them up, but the online world is very different with highly explicit content that YouTube takes part in.
A lot of the subscribed content on YouTube is on the raunchy side, which is partly the reason teens subscribe in the first place. The other issue is that parents are unlikely to block their child's YouTube content because it's too accessible.
This is a significant departure from the child locks of television shows. At least parents had some control before, but now technology has made it nearly impossible to control what their kids watch.
Kids will see the vulgarity and filthy YouTube content that parents won't want them watching, and things could get messy.
How to Prevent Online Cravings
So what can parents do to control what their children watch? How can they prevent them from becoming a YouTube addict?
I must say that adult communication is the best method to get through to kids.
To me, adult communication is talking with your child as if they're an adult. In simple terms, this means don't talk down to them because your kids are a lot smarter than you think.
If they know you treat them with respect and courtesy, then they'll be more likely to listen and talk back to you. You should focus on compromising with them instead of forcibly trying to take over their phones and electronic devices.
Unless the child is out of control and disobedient, then they should be able to negotiate with you on a kind and friendly level. Perhaps you could set time frames when your child is allowed to watch videos.
Also keep an eye on what they're watching. If you don't want them watching it, you had better be forceful and let them know.
How to Stop YouTube Addiction
If things are too far gone, then you might have to treat this as a real addiction problem.
If all your child does is watch videos all day, then make them stop. If there are any red flags such as declining grades, anti-social behavior, and mood swings if devices are taken away, then you may have to speak to a therapist or health professional.
There's nothing wrong with therapy for your kid if serious problems emerge.
The YouTube addiction is becoming a very serious issue as more and more young adults are getting caught up in it. Even YouTube knows it's a problem as there have been several new initiatives launched by Google to curb endless viewing habits.
When technology offers us limitless possibilities, there will be consequences and young, impressionable minds are the most at risk.
Communicating is key to stopping the problem, and a steady decline in what they watch is better than completely yanking it away from them.
Treat this problem as if it were a drug and alcohol addiction. Talk to them, yield them off the site slowly, and think of different, healthier options to occupy them with.
It's a growing concern for today's youth, but it doesn't have to become a challenge.