YouTube has more than 10 million unique users a month who are younger than 18 years of age, making it an ideal online environment in which to study the impact of various media content and peer feedback on adolescents. A series of experiments were designed to test the effectiveness of using YouTube to present controlled media content and peer comments to teens, and to measure their preferences and moral judgments. The results are presented in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking.
In "YouTube as Research Tool—Three Approaches," Elly Konijn, Jolanda Veldhuis, and Xanthe Plaisier, VU University Amsterdam, The Netherlands, developed experimental materials to post on YouTube. For example, they presented content related to female models and body weight and included prepared peer comments. They then measured how the teens in the study reacted to and interacted with the content. The aim of this experiment was to study the influences of peer feedback and body perception and to identify possible ways to counteract negative influences.
"The authors have done a good job in demonstrating how YouTube can be utilized for systematic research," says Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCIA, Editor-in-Chief of Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, from the Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, CA. "This research can also be extended to other topics as well as to other social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter."
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The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website.