YouTube has become an integral part of the lives of many young people. For young people, it’s not just about paddling. What role does YouTube play in the cultural education of young people?

The independent counsel for cultural education describes the platform YouTube in its current study “Horizon 2019” as a “leading medium for young people”. According to this, 86 percent of the 12 to 19-year-olds surveyed use YouTube. Only the WhatsApp news service is more popular with the target group. The YouTube stars, so-called “influencers”, are adored by their youthful followers like pop stars.

Media scientists and educators criticize, however, that the influencers hardly produce any serious content and earn money mainly from advertising that is not clearly recognizable as such. However, the Council for Arts Education also highlights the positive sides of YouTube in its study.

How dangerous are influencers for children?

Young people therefore not only use the platform to provide information from influencers but also, for example, to learn for school or as an artistic and cultural stimulus, for example in the areas of dance, film, music, or drawing.

Cultural institutions hardly prepared to deal with youtube

For Lydia Grun, one of the conclusions from this finding is that media literacy must play a much stronger role in home tutoring and in school. Lydia Grun is a professor for music education and a member of the Council for Cultural Education and says: “We need an understanding of the subject because young people use YouTube as a source of education for themselves.”

Young people use YouTube not only to provide influencers but also to learn for school.

But what exactly do young people learn on youtube and how do they best learn with the help of the new medium? Educational and cultural institutions have so far been “neither prepared nor set up” for these and comparable questions, says Grun.

Teens look for critical engagement with YouTube

At the end of 2016, the Standing Conference launched the “Education in the Digital World” strategy. From there it is currently said that the federal states are working “intensively on revising the curricula”. But representatives of the teachers’ union GEW warn that the necessary revisions would take much longer than announced by the politicians.

Not only the teachers or the private tutor but also the students would be happy about a lesson that incorporates current network phenomena such as YouTube or WhatsApp. According to the study by the Council for Cultural Education, far more than half of the young people would like to critically examine the videos on YouTube, the business models behind them, and the “leading medium” themselves.

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