Children's YouTube Consumption: An Analysis of the Most Viewed YouTube Videos of All Time

Bilgin Turna G., Akmaz Bıyıklı G.

International Aegean Conferences on Social Sciences & Humanities V , İzmir, Turkey, 25 - 26 February 2022, pp.73-74

  • Publication Type: Conference Paper / Summary Text
  • City: İzmir
  • Country: Turkey
  • Page Numbers: pp.73-74
  • Recep Tayyip Erdoğan University Affiliated: Yes


Launched in 2005, the video-sharing platform “YouTube” is the second most popular social media platform (after “Facebook”) in the world. YouTube users watch over one billion hours of video each day. It is one of the social media platforms that reaches very young age groups and also second most-visited website (after parent company Google) that have changed the way people find and share. The purpose of this research is to analyze the most popular 5 children videos on the list of “Top 10 Most Viewed Videos of All Time on YouTube”. The methodology of the study is as follows: first, these 5 most popular videos were watched several times by the researchers in order to observe the similarities and differences. The literature on “storytelling and narrative theory” and the publications about these five videos were examined. Content analysis was done. Number 1, Pinkfong’s “Baby Shark Dance”, is the first video ever to break the 10 billion mark, as of January 2022. It became a global sensation after it was remixed and recreated by the Seoulbased production company Pinkfong. Number 3, LooLoo Kid’s “Johny Johny Yes Papa”, has 6 billion lifetime views. Number 6 is Cocomelon’s “Bath Song” (5 billion views), Number 7 is Get Movies’ “Masha and the Bear-Recipe for Disaster” (4.5 billion views), and Number 9 is ChuChu TV’s “Phonics Song” (4.4 billion views).

What is so special about these videos? How come is YouTube’s most viewed video of all time is a children song? Like many other songs targeted at kids, “Baby Shark” relies on “repetition” to make sure it stays in the ears and on the lips of the kids. Since their vocabulary is limited, it’s easier for them to follow a catchy melody. Children also respond to the familiar domestic dynamic (baby, mommy, daddy, grandpa, and grandma shark). What’s more, they can characterize what they see in the video with the hand movements reflecting members of the shark family and fish running from the shark and finally a whale saves the fish, “safe at last doo doo…” Neuroscientists believe that catchy music increases the activity in children’s dopaminergic system, eliciting feelings of pleasure. Therefore, listening to it over and over again reinforces the kids to listen to it even more. The other three most popular children music videos on YouTube are also targeted to kids’ auditory, visual and behavioral senses. The songs are easy to remember and follow along within groups. Because there is no need for an instrumental accompaniment, any kid could join in. Probably many kids around the world watch these videos at the kindergarten and perform a show. These songs are appealing and educational since the combination of repetitive rhythms and lyrics, sequencing of movements, and a simple melody. Number 7 on YouTube, Masha and the Bear, is a Russian animated cartoon; each 7-minute show is full of action that holds kids’ attention well. The characters (Masha, bear, rabbit, goat, wolves, tiger, penguin, etc.) are visually appealing for children. Main character Masha is deviated greatly from the standard models with her bizarre manner. Her mischievous attitude, big eyes, and facial expressions make her very likeable to children. Clumsy yet friendly with everyone, she is always getting herself into trouble. “Recipe for Disaster” (came out in November 2015) is the only animated video among music clips that has been included in the list of Top10 Most Viewed Videos of All Time on YouTube. It exploded as a real imaginative phenomenon. Why? Because Masha and the Bear is quite different from other cartoons; it breaks the rules and undermines traditional education system. Like the outdoor education theories and educational experiments, Masha and the Bear also actively participates in the endeavor of educational renewal. Curiosity is the driver of Masha’s every action. When Bear (Masha’s best friend and a parental figure to her) realizes that Masha is about to make a mistake, he usually does not prevent her from doing so, but waits until the action has concluded before suggesting a possible remedy. In the end of the episodes, Masha herself becomes the main hero. On the other hand, some psychologists claim that the series are harmful for children’s psyche. Masha behaves badly but is not punished so the children may learn from the manner of her behavior and not understand why they do something wrong.

Storytelling is common throughout life. A lot of information in our brain is stored, indexed, and retrieved in the form of stories. Marketing strategies often involve creating a story in which the brand is a supporting actor enabling the protagonist, the characters in the videos, to achieve his/her goals. Narrative reports and drama enactments encourage participation. Keywords: Storytelling, YouTube, Children videos, Marketing, Narrative theory.