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What are Students Watching on YouTube?

Cody Rice March 10, 2015

In January 2015, what were K-12 students watching most on YouTube?

Top 5 YouTube Videos for Students

1. Mark-Ronson Mark Ronson - Uptown Funk ft. Bruno Mars
by MarkRonsonVEVO
2. Taylor-Swift---Blank-Space Taylor Swift - Blank Space
by TaylorSwiftVEVO
3. Meghan Trainor - Lips Are Movin
by MeghanTrainorVEVO
4. Rae-Sremmurd Rae Sremmurd - No Type
by RaeSremmurdVEVO
5. Meghan-Trainor---All-About-That-Bass Meghan Trainor - All About That Bass
by MeghanTrainorVEVO

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 Views Per Video - January 2015

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.

Students Most Viewed YouTube Videos - January 2015

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.

Everything Else

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.

Students Most Viewed YouTube Videos Excluding Music - January 2015

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.

 YouTube Views I Have a Dream Speech January 2015


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.

About the Analysis
All of the data used in this analysis was obtained through schools' use of GoGuardian services in compliance with federal and state privacy laws and this data is presented as de-identified data. This data is obtained after schools have applied various filters to their students' ability to watch YouTube. To analyze the data, we started with all the YouTube videos viewed by students using our services in January 2015. The videos were then organized according to the number of views per video, with the lower bound at 100 views, resulting in approximately the top 5000 videos. We then analyzed them - because we are nerds and love data.

Topics: Learning

Written by Cody Rice

GoGuardian Admin Product Manager

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