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HOW you Youtube is more important than IF you Youtube: What Parents of Adolescents Should Know

YouTube: What Parents of Adolescents Should Know

YouTube: What Parents of Adolescents Should Know. Read on to discover more. The widespread adoption of YouTube among adolescents has prompted researchers to explore its potential advantages and drawbacks. With YouTube usage estimated at around 80% in developed countries (Ceci & Statista, 2023), the platform’s popularity soars even higher among adolescents, reaching 95% usage (Pew Research Center, 2022). This significant usage has raised concerns about the well-being of adolescents (Hasmin et al., 2023; Vahdati et al., 2022), as certain types of YouTube engagement have been linked to higher levels of depressive symptoms (Chang & Ko, 2023). The potential connection between social media usage and depression, particularly among adolescents, has further intensified these concerns (Orben, 2020). However, much of the existing research overlooks two critical variables that shape the relationship between YouTube use and adolescent depression: engagement type and support.

Engagement Type and its Impact

Passive Social Media Use (PSMU), content consumption without active engagement, relates to negative psychological outcomes (Verduyn et al., 2020). Active engagement yields positive effects, enhancing online/offline social connections (Bottaro & Faraci, 2022). YouTube’s content focus aligns with PSMU due to passive engagement (Zhang et al., 2020). Short-form videos (5-90 seconds) fuel YouTube addiction and Passive YouTube Use (PYU) (Wu et al., 2021). YouTube poses significant PSMU risk. PYU’s causal link with depression is unclear due to bidirectional associations (Cataldo et al., 2021). Research needed to explore causation for addressing detrimental effects of restricting/permitting PYU in depression. Universal vs. individual applicability of variables crucial. Bidirectional PYU-adolescent depression links noted, but confounding factors underexplored.

Individual Differences and Moderation

Individual differences are key in the interplay between PYU and depressive symptoms. Beyens et al. (2020) found 10% had depressed mood, while 46% improved mood with PYU, highlighting individual moderating effects. This underscores the need for pinpointing variables amplifying PYU-depression link. E.g., Lai et al. (2023) linked introversion-extraversion to effects on social anxiety. Further study required for depression. Cataldo et al. (2021) warn against artificially increasing PYU in experiments. Accurate approach: establish baseline PYU, monitor changes per depression’s episodic nature (APA, 2013). Novel methods like Alsagri & Ykhlef (2020), Sharma & Dey (2020) for social media use monitoring show promise. Adolescent depression’s connection to YouTube misconstrued as uniform (Valkenburg et al., 2022). Future focus: untangle individualized, episodic nature of depression and PYU.

Methods for Monitoring PYU and Depression

Monitoring an individual’s PYU and its potential impact on depression requires innovative approaches. Alsagri and Ykhlef (2020) and Sharma and Dey (2020) have reported encouraging findings in this realm. These methodologies pave the way for more accurate assessments of the interplay between YouTube engagement and adolescent well-being. As the episodic nature of depression is acknowledged, with episodes lasting a minimum of two weeks and ending within twelve months for most individuals (American Psychiatric Association, 2013), adopting techniques that capture fluctuations over time is crucial. These methodologies offer promise in unraveling the intricate associations between adolescent depression and YouTube engagement, specifically PYU.


Understanding the intricate relationship between YouTube engagement and adolescent depression requires a nuanced approach. The type of engagement, individual differences, and episodic nature of depression all contribute to the complex web of interactions. Acknowledging these factors and utilizing novel monitoring methods will aid in deciphering the true impact of YouTube engagement on adolescent well-being. As researchers strive to shed light on this vital topic, parents can gain valuable insights into how their adolescents interact with YouTube, allowing for informed guidance and support.

Adapted from: The Nuanced Relationship Between YouTube Usage and Adolescent Depression.

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Monique Jones

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