Children and young people want to understand the world. The older they get, the more they inform themselves on social networks – including about current news. For example, they watch videos by YouTubers LeFloid and MrWissen2Go, which summarize and comment on daily topics. News formats on YouTube are popular with young people primarily because they are easy to understand, short and entertaining. Unlike on television or in newspapers, however, virtually anyone can upload and distribute content on the Internet. But who controls the truthfulness of the content on YouTube?
The success of YouTube videos depends on clicks and views. The funnier and more exaggerated content is presented, the more often it is clicked and reaches more people. The quality or accuracy of the content does not necessarily matter.
YouTube is not an educational service, but a commercial platform of Google. The content does not come from Google, but from the users themselves. Thousands of videos are uploaded every day. False reports can also end up on YouTube and remain visible until YouTube is made aware of them and can have them checked.
Some YouTubers like to include their personal opinions on current topics. Of course, this is particularly exciting for young people because they want to form their own opinions. However, they can also be quickly influenced. Some people take advantage of this and want to convince young people in particular of their opinion. Children and young people can therefore come into contact with populist and extremist content on YouTube. The comment function is also used to spread false news and propaganda channels.
Should we believe what is said or not? Some questions can help to classify it: What the main message of the video? Do I feel informed by the video or am I agitated? Is a bad mood being created against certain people or groups? To influence the feelings of the viewers, dramatic music or shocking images are used, for example. If there is no information about who made the video and where the knowledge is from, one should be skeptical and try to verify the statements.
You don’t decide alone which videos are displayed on YouTube. Depending on what terms you have already searched for and what videos you have watched, YouTube will suggest other videos that you might therefore like. It is programmed that way. This can create a one-sided view of the world because other perspectives and information are less present….
Despite these risks, help your child stay informed about world events. If you are up to speed yourself, you may be able to answer his questions yourself. Or you can research answers together. This way, your child learns what to look for when searching for information on the web and how to classify it. In the article “All fake? Recognizing Fake News” you will find tips on how to do this. Good sources are usually the offerings of public service media, as these must meet certain journalistic criteria. You can also find them on YouTube – e.g. in the various formats of funk which are especially tailored to the interests of people between the ages of 14 and 25.
The need to inform themselves and develop their own opinions is important for children and young people to be able to help shape society one day as adults. YouTube can also be useful for school.