We may never understand the mind of teenagers, but at least we have some idea of what they’re looking at online—mostly YouTube. The National Cyber Security Alliance and Microsoft polled 804 US teen internet users ages 13 to 17 about their digital activities and a whopping 9 out of 10 said they use YouTube. The video sharing site may have been number one on the list, but it turns out that Gmail ranked number two. In fact, three-quarters of teens said they used the email app, which no doubt made Google very happy.
To put those numbers in perspective, more teens said they used Gmail than social sites and apps including Snapchat, Instagram and even Facebook. Why? One major factor could be not what those teens are watching, but whom. Research from November 2014 by Defy Media revealed that 54 percent of teens surveyed followed YouTubers on social platforms, compared to 42 percent who followed TV and movie stars.
When it comes to making purchases, YouTube stars have more influence over teens than traditional celebrities, as well. The same research by Defy Media showed that 63 percent would try a product or brand suggested by a YouTuber but fewer than half of respondents said the same about recommendations from a TV or movie star. This is great news for Google, who recently created the YouTube Community for creators to connect with fans—a move that will benefit influencers and brand partners alike.
Analytics firm eMarketer estimates that 17.5 million social network users between the ages of 12 and 17 will use a social network at least once per month in 2016, with that number growing to 18.2 million by 2020. That’s a lot of numbers to digest this early in the week, but the takeway is that teenagers love their influencers across social networks and beyond. Behold, the power of YouTube.