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Imparting Knowledge via Entertaining YouTube Formats. An Explorative Study of Young Media Users in Germany


The participatory use of moving images on the Internet, e.g. on YouTube (Fuchs 2014; McMullan 2020), is one of the major trends in recent media history. YouTube is the undisputed leader of the distribution channels and in the top range of social media, although TikTok is becoming increasingly popular (MPFS 2020a, 2020b). In addition to explicitly entertainment-oriented music, comedy and how-to videos, young people use videos that impart knowledge or deal with political topics. It has already been proven that knowledge can be conveyed via YouTube and users are motivated by interest-based learning. There are also numerous offerings that are primarily geared towards entertainment, but nonetheless motivate users in a casual, rather emotional and sometimes unintentional manner to further explore certain topics. This article offers a specific example of the effects this process can have on young people watching YouTube Videos that seem primarily focused on entertainment. The presented study is based on data collected in 2019 and explains which participatory strategies for imparting knowledge via entertaining YouTube formats can be effective. The findings of this study are of fundamental importance, especially considering the COVID-19 pandemic. Remote interaction, communication, and learning have resulted in a more solitary media usage that raised new questions regarding participatory culture and learning. Can entertainment formats be part of blended learning and thus contribute to imparting knowledge despite school closures, a lack of social exchange opportunities and increased media use (in the sense of media as a window to the world for locked-down people)?