Written by Amber Wibbenmeyer. Media by Kelsey Middleton.
What makes a role model? A role model can be anyone. The definition of a role model is someone who is looked upon to be imitated. Role models play a huge part in shaping the future generation; anyone can be a role model, even if they aren’t the best person. This can be a huge issue, especially if children don’t know who to look up to. Media has a huge impact on who is placed in the spotlight, the people that children see every day.
It is common for children to find someone to admire. It could be a family member, a teacher, a media personality, or even the mailman. This means we may be playing a dangerous game, especially with what we put on the front pages of papers and magazines or give the most screen time on television.
The internet is beginning to play a large part in who children look up to, especially with the overwhelming number of YouTubers that are jumpstarting their careers. A YouTuber is someone who devotes their time and resources into being entertaining on YouTube. This can be done in many different ways, and depending on the interests of the child, there are endless options for content.
Many of the most popular internet personalities are aware of the influence their content has on their audience. They are aware of the demographic of their fans and are sure to tailor their content accordingly. Many YouTubers will select their video topics carefully, in order to appeal to younger audience. Phil Lester, or AmazingPhil, is a great example of this fact. AmazingPhil is not a young YouTuber, but he has a very large following, mostly consisting of young girls. Lester does not swear in his videos and ensures that his videos are appropriate for any age group. Daniel Howell, however, is not as careful of these things. Daniel Howell and Phil Lester share most of their fan base since their friendship dynamic is something that many teenagers find entertaining. But Howell, even though he is aware of the ages of his fans, is not as careful of his language or themes within his videos.
Of these two men, Lester may be the better role model. However, if a young person were to stumble upon his videos, they would likely find Howell as well. Oftentimes the two film together, so their channels are intertwined. Although these two both care deeply about their audience, one is clearly a better role model for the younger generation.
In the digital age, it can be close to impossible to keep the family-friendly content separate from the questionable content. YouTube has been trying to take steps to help make this distinction, creating a “restricted mode.” This mode can be activated or deactivated from the settings. It is meant to hide any videos that contain material that isn’t suitable for children, such as videos that contain a lot of swearing or inappropriate visual content. This is a great idea, however, it has one major point of controversy.
YouTube’s restricted mode blocked any videos that contained LGBTQIA+ content. This turned a lot of heads, for obvious reasons. What about LGBTQIA+ content is harmful for young people? Many people had opinions on the issue, and no real resolution was formed. Bbringing these things up as “issues,” and as something that needs to be hidden, can alienate a child who may be struggling with their identity.
Role models are so important for this reason and many more. A role model is someone who helps shape the future generations and the ways they approach the world, so it is important to be wary of who we place in the spotlight. This poses a question regarding how we regulate who gets the most screen time when people with different morals are so easily entwined. Who decides what kind of role model each child needs? What is it that makes a person a good or bad role model?