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Viyada Holt

Professor Burman

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English 102

29 January 2018

The
Logang Cult

Abstract

            YouTube has become a significantly negative impact on
young children. While once a site that was simply used to view cat videos or
listen to music it has grown into a larger platform that creates celebrities
and millionaires. Considering how impressionable young children can be, it is
very often that they idolize their favorite celebrities. So, one must ask if
YouTube has become a way for creators to manipulate children; do these creators
act as role models or are they creating a toxic ideology of what is socially
and morally acceptable? Further research supported the idea that the most
popular YouTubers create content based off money and views, rather than content
they believe is genuinely entertaining or sends a good message. It is important
to understand how influential the decisions these creators make can be on young
children.

Introduction

            YouTube has grown
to be one of the most negative impacts on today’s society due to the blind
idolizations of its “celebrities.” This report researches and shows how
children aged 9-17 can become easily influenced by social media stardom. Based
on studies and research performed, children look towards many celebrities to be
their role models. However, it is hard for them to discern what is acceptable
behavior at their age. This can greatly affect the way that they view what is
morally and socially acceptable. Social media itself plays a large role in
everyday life, and especially for that of children aged 9-17. Studies conducted
showed children’s mental health is greatly affected by the internet, especially
in the areas of low self-esteem and body image (Richards et al.). A study done
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the suicide rate among
teenage girls ages 15 to 19 rose to an all time 40-year high in 2015. The rate
had almost doubled between 2007 and 2015 (Chuck). These high rates demanded for
the problem to be addressed and researched. Most cases of teen suicide were
linked to that of bullying on some platform of social media. While social media
served as a reliable tool to communicate and share with others; it also became
what poisoned young minds. Because of its anonymity it became easier for teens
to bully one another with what seemed like almost no repercussions. At the same
time social media fame was on the rise. Children and teens began discussing and
sharing pictures and videos they found relatable or humorous. Before long
YouTube became a new kind of Hollywood. Thousands of videos were posted daily
of comedy skits, news, music videos, and more. Celebrities such as Justin
Bieber, Colbie Caillat, and Soulja Boy were even discovered from simply posting
amateur videos of themselves singing on the platform. Those who aspired to
become famous used the platform to gain attention and give them the boost they
needed to be on mainstream television. In the early 2000s, that attention was
all someone could gain from YouTube. It was all work and no pay. However, as
YouTube celebrities became more successful, so did the website. Meetups were
being done between YouTube personalities and their fans, and some were even
being paid to have advertisements played before their videos. It wasn’t until
2007 that the site really became a goldmine for creators. Nowadays many
YouTubers can quit their jobs and upload videos as a career. In fact, YouTube
has paid out more than $1.25 billion to rights holders for the ability to
screen their content (Stokel-Walker). Logan Paul is the fourth richest creator
on the platform YouTube. Each year he makes an estimated amount of 13 million
(Ahmed). The 22-year-old broke on to the scene originally on an app called
Vine. This app allowed creators to make a video for only six seconds. Usually
partnered with his equally famous brother Jake Paul, the two made funny and
relatable vines that shot to the popular page almost immediately after being
posted. After the creator of the app decided to shut down Vine Paul made his
transition to YouTube. With a ginormous group of fans following him it didn’t
take long for the vlogger to begin trending on YouTube. His fan base consists
of mainly boys aging from 13-17. Paul receives a shocking 3 million views per
day on his videos (Ahmed). His content consists of daily vlogging of his life
and some pranks with his brother Jake. Paul refers to his loyal fans as the
“Logang,” many times stating they are “Mavericks” and “different than anyone
else.” Millions of his fans rave that he has inspired and motivated them to be
successful. So where is the problem in Logan Paul’s insane amount of success? A
recent video uploaded in December by Paul showed him discovering a dead body in
the suicide forest of Japan. Instead of dropping the camera to seek help, Paul
vlogged the man’s body as he found it hanging from a tree (“We found a dead
body in the Japanese Suicide Forest”). Shortly after posting the video it was
met with disgust and anger from almost the entire YouTube community. It sparked
thousands of reaction videos and angry tweets from fellow YouTube
personalities. The now deleted video was titled “We found a dead body in the
Japanese Suicide Forest.” The video was the final installment of a series of
vlogs Paul had filmed during his visit to Japan. Only a few hours after
uploading Paul deleted the video and issued an apology on his Twitter. Paul
states he “intended to raise awareness for suicide and suicide prevention” (@LoganPaul).
This was met with more anger and accusations that Paul had gone into the forest
to seek out the body simply for more views. However, while his fellow YouTube
stars were condemning him, his fanbase was doing the exact opposite. The
“Logang” met the controversy with blind support of the star. Some fans going as
far as to say the man was lucky to even be in a Logan Paul vlog. One boy uploaded
a video of himself stating “I would do anything, even that, just to be in a
Logan Paul vlog” (Logan Paul’s Fans 00:00:09-00:00:12). Before the video had
become such a social media firestorm most parents knew virtually nothing about
Logan Paul. In an interview done by a woman outside of a Logan Paul meet and
greet she asked parents what their opinion of the star was. One father answered,
“I don’t really know anything about him, my kids just love him.” This is where
YouTube begins to become a toxic platform. While the early days of YouTube
produced content that was new, exciting, and well thought out, the newer
creators of the platform only push out videos they know will make them money.
This mentality that views equal money produces dangerous content that is made
for shock value rather than entertainment. With complete disregard for their
audience most top YouTubers play into the “prank culture” of YouTube that
became big in 2013. A YouTuber by the name of Sam Pepper had uploaded a video
titled “KILLING BEST FRIEND PRANK” where he kidnaps a man and forces him to
watch his best friend get shot in the head in front of him. Only to reveal the
entire thing was a prank and that his friend is alive (“KILLING BEST FRIEND
PRANK”). This video was also deleted after being met with backlash. Despite so
many similar videos meeting the same backlash, the prank culture continues to
thrive. Boyfriends film themselves throwing their girlfriends out windows,
fathers tell mothers their kids have died, and other YouTubers even go out into
public and provoke fights under the guise of it being a prank. So why do these
videos continue to take over the platform? The simple answer is that they get
more views. No matter how much the YouTube community condemns these actions the
videos continue to get millions of views from children. A study done showed
that by the time a child reaches the age of 18 they have already viewed 16,000
simulated murders and 200,000 acts of violence (qtd. in Muscari). There is a
significant connection between this media violence and aggressive behavior,
values, and behaviors in children (qtd. in Muscari.). What makes the issue so
difficult is how easy it is for children to access this content. With how far
technology has progressed videos and pictures can be accessed with a thumb
swipe or a click of a button. Many children that idolize celebrities like Logan
Paul cannot separate his online persona with reality. They believe if they are
exactly like him they can become rich and successful like him as well. It is
not bad for children to have role models of course, but there needs to be a
point where parents step in to teach what is right and what is wrong. The
University Wire drives in this point by saying “The fact of the matter is that
parents can’t control the actions of a celebrity nor can they prevent exposure
to their bad behavior. Parents need to encourage their children to not aspire
to be someone, but to aspire to do something” (“Idolization of Celebrities”).

Methods

            The research was done mostly through ProQuest and
YouTube. By entering in the keywords “YouTube,” “children,” “role models,” and
“internet violence” to ProQuest many articles with relevant information were
found to give more insight to the effect mass media has on children. Of all the
YouTube personalities Logan Paul was examined. By examining his YouTube
channel, analyzing his most viewed videos, and reading the comment sections
information on his content and fanbase was recorded. A YouTube search was done
on interviews containing material on Logan Paul. A series of street interviews
with parents of his fanbase helped to demonstrate the ignorance most parents
show to his content.

Results

            The research done
indicated that children aged 9-17 are the most susceptible to cyberbullying and
internet violence. The University Wire news article showed that most parents
nowadays look to internet personalities to act as role models to their
children. This mindset proved problematic because of the importance of
instilling values as a parent to one’s child. Since the lives of celebrities
are often time scrutinized or glamorized it is not wise to hold them to an
impossible standard or expect them to teach children about what is right or wrong.
In contrast to this Muscari’s journal on media violence brought forth the point
that parents need to be aware of what their children are watching. Muscari
stresses how incredibly easy it is for children to access graphic material on
the internet. However, with the proper education in schools, clinics, and other
offices parents can learn the statistics and how to avoid exposure to media
violence.

Discussion

            The findings of
this research answered the question of how mass media influences young
children. Looking at the suicide rates of young children in relation to social
media shows how detrimental it can be to a child’s mental health. The ignorance
and indifference parents show to what their children watch also feeds in to the
problem. The research proves that most parents look to celebrities to teach
their children values. However, when parents are not paying attention to what is
being viewed they cannot know what kind of values are being instilled in their
child. While they hold celebrities to this impossible standard, those same celebrities
are looking out for themselves and their income rather than what they could
possibly be teaching young children.

Conclusion/Recommendations

            It is hoped that the issue of social media’s influence on
children can be changed to something more positive in the future. Parents need
to be more involved in what and who their children are watching online. It needs
to be recognized that a good portion of celebrities are not proper role models
for young children, and the blind support of those children only encourage celebrities
further to continue in toxic behavior. YouTube and other social media need to act
against content that is blatantly graphic or violent. Instead of paying those
creators money for their mistakes there needs to be adequate consequences. More
parents need to monitor what their children are watching to make sure it is
conveying the right message to children. Both parents and children need to be
educated more on how to avoid this kind of content and the effect it can have
on one’s mental health. If both YouTube and parents can take that step forward
to prevent more exposure of violence to children the internet can become a
healthy environment for children to learn and communicate with one another.

 

Works
Cited

Ahmed,
Tufayel. “How Much is Logan Paul Worth? YouTube Star Behind Japan Suicide
Forest Video Earns Millions From Videos.” Newsweek.
3 Jan. 2018. http://www.newsweek.com/how-much-logan-paul-worth-youtube-star-behind-japan-suicide-forest-video-earns-769018.

Chuck,
Elizabeth. “Is Social Media Contributing to Rising Teen Suicide Rate?” NBCNews, 22 Oct. 2017. https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/social-media-contributing-rising-teen-suicide-rate-n812426.

“Idolization
of Celebrities.” University Wire, Nov 12, 2014, eLibrary;
US Newsstream, http://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=https://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2057/docview/1622926920?accountid=2280.

*”KILLING
BEST FRIEND PRANK.” YouTube. Uploaded
by Sam Pepper. Accessed on Nov. 2015.

@LoganPaul.
“Dear Internet,” Twitter, 1 Jan.
2018, 7:00 p.m., https://twitter.com/loganpaul/status/948026294066864128.

“Logan
Paul’s fans in a nutshell.” Twitter. Uploaded
by @KEEMSTAR, 1 Jan. 2018, 10:25 p.m., https://twitter.com/keemstar/status/948077897012666374.

Muscari,
Mary. “Media Violence: Advice for Parents.” Pediatric Nursing,
vol. 28, no. 6, 2002, pp. 585-91, eLibrary; Research Library, http://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=https://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2057/docview/199389762?accountid=2280.

Richards,
Deborah, Patrina H. Y. Caldwell, and Henry Go. “Impact of Social Media on
the Health of Children and Young People.” Journal of Paediatrics
and Child Health, vol. 51, no. 12, 2015, pp. 1152-1157, Research Library,
http://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2048/login?url=https://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2057/docview/1738641293?accountid=2280,
doi:http://ezproxy.pierce.ctc.edu:2101/10.1111/jpc.13023.

Stokel-Walker.
“More than a decade later, how do original YouTube stars feel about the site?” arstechnica. 11 Jun. 2017. https://arstechnica.com/features/2017/06/youtube-changed-my-life-a-pair-of-original-videostars-ponder-a-life-lived-online/.

*”We
found a dead body in the suicide forest.” YouTube.
Uploaded by Logan Paul. Accessed on 1 Jan. 2018.