In January 2015, what were K-12 students watching most on YouTube?
Top 5 YouTube Videos for Students
These top videos were viewed significantly more than others, suggesting that the most popular videos are consistent across a large percentage of the student population. The normalized graph of views per video confirms this, as the number of views quickly drops after the top 10 videos.
Students' Focus on Music
As you likely noticed, the top 5 videos viewed by students are all music videos. This trend is not an aberration, as the top 23 videos were all music videos, and 95 out of the top 100 highest viewed videos fall into the Music category. This trend continues throughout all the videos analyzed, resulting in almost 2/3 of all YouTube views being in the Music category.
This data suggests that students' primary use for YouTube on school Chromebooks is to use it as a streaming music source for popular music. To confirm, we looked at the amount of top-viewed videos that were in the Music category. While the top 300 most-viewed videos are almost all music videos, even in the less viewed videos, videos from the Music category still make up 1/2 of all the videos watched. Thus, students watch popular music videos almost as often as any other category combined.
But what about everything else? If we remove Music videos from the results, the most popular videos in other catagories are primarily led by the Entertainment and Games categories, followed by Sports, People, Comedy, and Film. These classifications are a bit fuzzy, as there are ambiguous definitions applied to the videos. For example, NFL Bad Lip Reading videos were found in both the Comedy and Entertainment categories.
Delving further, we found that across these categories, 26% of all views Entertainment views were Vine compilations, hinting at its popularity with the younger generation, and in the Games category, 20% of the views were about Minecraft.
By taking an aggregate look at the data we acquired, we can start to understand students' viewing habits on YouTube in an effort to give schools better tools for education. One example of this is examining how schools are using YouTube to educate students in the classroom, especially around important topics, such as civil rights.
Overall, it seems that students are primarily using YouTube to listen to music, watch entertaining videos, or explore their favorite games.
It is important to note that this is primarily what students are watching at school and that their IT administrators have allowed, as the GoGuardian software used by the schools permits the ability to block categories of videos in order to increase student productivity, and might explain why Comedy, Film, Movies, and Animals were not as popular. Some schools have chosen to block all of YouTube, only allowing specific educational videos, and some have allowed completely open exploration on YouTube, with most falling somewhere in between.