Steve Spriggs discusses teenagers and YouTube…
YouTube is excellent for many things, such as watching videos of your favourite band or step-by-step instructions on how to change a tyre or make a pecan pie. But the new craze from ‘study tubers’ – teenagers who film themselves studying for 12-15 hours a day and share tips and advice on how their peers can do the same – is just wrong.
Popular vloggers include 17-year-old A Level student Ruby Granger whose speeded-up ‘Study with Me: 15 Hour Study Day’ film has been watched millions of times and 18-year-old’s Jade Bowler’s, ‘Unjaded Jade’ channel, which sees her filming her 5am wake-up routine in order to “be more productive”.
Exams are stressful enough so when influential youngsters, who are already nervous or anxious about upcoming tests, are told the ‘gospel’ way of working is to spend every waking moment hunched over a textbook, it just adds to the worry. The vloggers are not teachers, they don’t have years of experience and they don’t have credible resources. Yet they are role models and inevitably some students will trust their judgement above their teacher’s.
Working for 12-15 hours a day is dangerous and unhealthy at any age, but this kind of pressure could see a knock-on effect to mental health issues around exam time with more kids spending even more time online. Tiredness won’t help you learn and it certainly doesn’t make you more productive.
I do think the creators possibly do, or did, have the best of intentions when they started out. However, I come to this wearing my cynical hat. Many of these vloggers are not just keen bean students providing a public service. They are desperate for fame and to make some money. Many of the films have promotions, which are so crude and far removed from any topic under discussion that they present a clear conflict of interest. Remember, 15-hour binge study sessions create 15 hours of ad slots. It can’t be too long before 20-hour study session starts with ads for legal stimulants to keep the young viewers awake.
And I’m sure we don’t have long to wait before we have study guide product placements, subscriptions, premium ‘personal revision tutorials’ and before we know it we’ll have ‘Brand Ruby’ or ‘Brand Jade’ lending their name to a host of merchandise. A clear market for this is China where hysteria and trends tend to blow up very fast and those fronting them make a lot of money in a short amount of time. I wouldn’t be surprised if Ruby or Jade have agents looking after their commercial interests (if not, I’m sure agents are fighting for her signature). In a few years, they’ll no doubt realise it wasn’t the studying that launched their career but the fact they filmed it, as they segue into jobs in presenting or reality stardom or online influencing or any of the other roles millennials admire.
I know I sound about 150 years old here. I’m not saying these study tubers should be banned as they can serve a purpose. However, as they are targeting the vulnerable teenage market (and possibly younger), it’s sensible to suggest they should be kept in check to ensure that what they are promoting is not damaging to their viewers. Until then, I suppose we watch and wait.
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