Many kids now idolize and look up to their favorite YouTuber ... but why?

Imagine growing up and being able to access the world—and more importantly others—with the tap of a finger.

That’s the reality for our children. 

With this kind of power literally at their fingertips, the rise of platforms like YouTube have changed the way kids experience entertainment and how often they get to do so. The ability to access video on demand has enabled kids to watch what they want, when they want. 

Couple that with the convenience of interacting with content producers who can respond to their suggestions or requests quickly, and it becomes relatively clear why the platform has become so successful.

But what about the stars? Why are they so successful and popular with kids?

Glad you asked. 

1. Representation. 

Let’s be honest here: representation matters. As a society, we’ve come to learn (or rather are in the process of learning) the importance of kids being able to see people who look like them portrayed on screen. 

YouTube has made that possible and then some. Whether it’s a matter of race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic backgrounds—you name it, and a kid is likely to find that kind of representation on the platform. 

2. Relatability. 

In a 2014 study commissioned by Variety, teenagers aged 13-18 in the U.S. provided invaluable insight into the biggest influencers for their age demographic. The 1,500 respondents were essentially asked to rank 20 influencers based on approachability, authenticity, and other factors. 

YouTube stars took the top five and six dominated the top ten. A key reason for this was relatability. 

Think about it: as a teenager are you more likely to relate to Katy Perry or the kid on YouTube who’s living their life just as you are? The only difference between you and the latter is that they’re recording and sharing their life along the way, and probably funnier or more entertaining in the process of that; with the former, there’s a publicist, glam squad, image consultant, millions of dollars, and a myriad of other things that create a sea between you and them that not even social media could help either of you to cross. 

3. Responsiveness. 

One of the greatest powers that YouTubers have is the ability to respond quickly—be it through videos, the comments section, or social media—to the needs and desires of viewers. They can adjust their content at lightning speed—something that TV producers cannot.  

This gives the viewer a shared investment and creativity in the kind of content that they consume. Responsiveness produces engagement, and engagement increases popularity.  

4. Resourcefulness. 

Pranks, challenges, tips, DIY—the list goes on. There is no shortage in the kind of content that kids get, and like, to see. With relatively low (or no) overhead costs, YouTube stars (and content producers in general on the platform) can produce videos or YouTube shows quickly. 

A video about make-up only requires make-up, a face, and some level of skill (depending on whether humor or credibility is the star’s end goal). If the YouTube star is already into make-up, they have it on hand and can use their own face as a palette. 

Depending on their level of popularity, that low-budget (or no-budget) video can garner hundreds of thousands of views. Those views can then lead to opportunities that include sponsorships, a brand ambassadorship, or employment. 

Resourceful much? I’d say.

While every content producer on YouTube doesn’t become a star, they do contribute to the digital ecosystem of the platform and help it to thrive.  For those who become stars, they become the influencers that shape culture, trends, and yes, minds.

PS: If you haven’t already, consider asking your kids which YouTube stars they like and why. The more informed that you are, the better protected your kids are. 

About Syreeta Martin

Sincerely Syreeta is the mother of two daughters who remind her to Empathize, Empower, and EVOLVE every day. She is a freelance journalist, talk show host, life coach, motivational speaker, and entrepreneur based out of Philadelphia, PA.

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