posted by Benedict Townsend

If your parent or relative is baffled by your love of YouTube, just show them this handy guide!

Hello there! If you’re reading this it’s because your son, daughter, or other variation of loved one has shared this article with you. Welcome! Here at We The Unicorns we specialise in reporting on all the latest YouTube news and creating fun YouTube-related quizzes and games, so we feel uniquely qualified to help you understand what can be, understandably, a pretty confusing world to newcomers.



What Exactly Is A YouTuber?

A YouTuber is anyone who makes videos and puts them on specifically for the purpose of entertaining or informing others. There is no specific criteria that makes up a ‘YouTuber’ and they can span from comedians to musicians to ‘vloggers’ (we’ll get back to them later). One of the appeals of being a YouTuber is the lack of barriers to entry, at least compared to being on TV or in movies.



What Is A Vlogger Then?

‘Vlogger’ is a relatively broad term given to any YouTuber whose main activity is talking directly the audience. This might be for the sake of comedy, to tell stories, to give advice – but the main appeal is connection. It is the directness that is appealing. It’s like having an internet best friend. Many of them (like Tyler Oakley) are charismatic, interesting people that you simply have a fun time listening to. There’s nothing in particular that you need to ‘get’ about it, it’s just about simple person-to-person connection.



But What Do They Actually DO?

Ah, the age-old question. This is something we get asked a lot by people of all ages. It’s understandable to watch some YouTubers (particularly vloggers) and to think that they don’t seem to be doing very much. But it actually takes a lot of effort to make these videos appear so effortless. Ultimately they may not be displaying a certain particular talent or skill – they are more being generally engaging, in the manner of a talk show host.  YouTubers vary, but the key thing to remember is that it’s all personality driven. It’s not all ego-driven, though. Most YouTubers use their platform to promote healthy ideas like body-positivity, acceptance of others and the understanding of mental health issues.



Why Do They Do It? Do They Make Money?

Any good YouTuber is making videos because it’s something that their passionate about, but it’s also true that these days YouTubers can build a very, very lucrative career out of their videos, with the top YouTubers earning millions every year. That doesn’t mean that kids should all just drop out of school and instantly make millions – YouTube is no different to any form of entertainment business: only some make it to the top. But hey, if someone you know is passionate about YouTubing as a hobby, it’s definitely something to encourage, if only for the off-chance that they may end up drowning in $$$



Is YouTube A Safe Space For A Young Person?

This is a difficult question to answer because YouTube, like most of the internet, is a wide-open space. Just as in the real world, there are nice people and mean people. A good thing about YouTube is that it is not as personal or involved as other social media sites like Facebook or Twitter. Interaction is resigned to merely comments on videos – so no one is going to get hold of personal information. Comment sections on random videos are infamously something of a rodeo – it’s all just a random, nonsensical mess. But the nice thing about YouTubers (with very few exceptions) is that they tend to have very healthy, positive communities surrounding them. These ‘fandoms’ (collective noun for a group of fans) are honestly a sort of beacon of light in an other-wise relatively gloomy place (the internet).


Comment sections on videos posted by popular users tend to be far, far more civil than other videos and they also tend to drift towards self-policing – wherein commenters who are nasty will be driven away by others looking for a more positive experience.


‘I’ve Heard Terrible Things About X YouTuber’

Sadly, with the global nature of YouTube and with the number of people finding fame on YouTube growing exponentially year on year, there are occasions where people become famous who later turn out to be unsavoury, or even (allegedly) criminal. Some recent notable examples of youTubers who have had serious accusations levelled against them are Sam Pepper (who is generally unpleasant anyway) and Toby Turner (the story is ongoing). The good news is that: first, these problems are almost always in the private lives and secondly, the YouTube community is very swift and very forceful with shunning those who are revealed to be unpleasant. Mainstream YouTube culture simply doesn’t tolerate nasty people. If someone is revealed to be problematic, their careers ends basically there and then.


The Bottom Line

Ultimately it’s very harmless. Of all the things for a person to be interested in, YouTube is a pretty good one. It’s friendly, it’s low-energy and, unless you buy a lot of merchandise (which will be up to you), it’s completely free. The fans of YouTubers are no different to fans of bands. Being obsessed with Dan and Phil is no different to Beatlemania. As always, it pays to keep a general eye on a young person who spends a lot of time online, as you never know what might happen, but when it comes to YouTube, you can rest assured that it’s a fun, healthy and positive area to be interested in.