|More than 1.8 billion people watch videos on YouTube every month.( http://www.hani.co.kr/arti/society/society_general/858146.html)|
An SBS reporter asked elementary school students, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” For the first time, being a YouTube creator was high on the list of students’ dream jobs. Among elementary school students these days, YouTube creators are as popular as celebrities. There are lots of students that shoot and upload their own videos on YouTube. It is no surprise that with such popularity YouTube can have a strong influence on students. Many students also watch YouTube to learn dances, games, recipes, solve problems, and so on. However, elementary school students, who are less able to distinguish between good and bad behavior, may show concerning side effects such as recklessly imitating their favorite YouTube creators. To increase the number of ‘subscribers’ and ‘likes’, YouTube creators have been producing a lot of sensational and novel content. The real problem is that teenagers are influenced to copy the behaviors they see in videos. Some of these videos show YouTubers doing violent activities, telling stories about prostitution, encouraging plastic surgery, and even making bombs.
As more and more elementary students record and upload their own videos, parents are growing increasingly concerned. They worry that their children will produce sensational or violent content. This is because children often imitate the so-called YouTube stars. Jeong Min-sung, who has a son in the fifth grade, said, “My son’s favorite YouTube creator, Shin Tae-il, committed violent acts such as hitting the back of elementary school students, and my son imitated him. The YouTube creator’s account was suspended due to social controversy, but it has recently been reactivated. Even when his account was suspended, similar content was being produced by children who followed him.
Yoon, 43, who lives in Seoul Sindaebang-dong, struggled when he refused his daughter’s request to change her face through plastic surgery like some YouTube creators. The daughter showed Yoon a YouTube video titled ‘Satisfied with Plastic Surgery on the Nose and Eyes’. In the video, a woman was showing off her beautiful eye crease and elevated nose after undergoing plastic surgery. There was no mention of side effects. Yoon expressed concern that teenagers won’t think critically about plastic surgery, and just believe what they see on YouTube. The top 10 videos on YouTube that advertised plastic surgery minimized side effects, or did not mention them at all.
Controversy over the harmfulness of YouTube content is not limited to South Korea. Logan Paul, a renowned U.S. YouTube creator with 18 million subscribers, visited Jukai Forest. This forest is located in the Yamanashi prefecture of Japan, and is also known as ‘The Suicide Forest’. Logan Paul uploaded a video of a man who is believed to have hung himself. He smiled and chatted next to the man’s corpse. YouTube did not impose any sanctions on his channel until controversy grew and Logan Paul deleted the footage. The original video is gone, but clips from the video can still be easily found on YouTube.
Obviously, there are many positive things about YouTube. Through its various content, people can learn how to cook, find new hobbies, exercise easily, and have indirect experiences while watching travel channels. But provocative, violent, and near-criminal content can be easily accessed by children, adversely affecting young people whose values have not yet fully formed, leading to social problems. To reduce such side effects, YouTube will have to further strengthen its channel strike system to censor inappropriate images that could have a negative impact on viewers. In addition, YouTube needs to come up with a cohesive plan, which should include permanently removing YouTube creators for uploading illegal and violent broadcasts from Internet broadcasting.
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