Swiss young people prefer YouTubers from abroad

The favourite YouTubers of Swiss young people are mostly male and come from the neighbouring country of their own language region. This is shown in the latest JAMESfocus report by ZHAW and Swisscom.


Although three quarters of Swiss young people name at least one favourite YouTuber, there are no Swiss people in the upper echelons. This is because their typical stars among YouTubers are male, between twenty and thirty years old and come from the large neighbouring country of their own language region, such as Germany, France and Italy. PewDiePie is the only English speaker to have made it among the most popular YouTubers.

This is shown in the current JAMESfocus report by the ZHAW Media Psychology Group and Swisscom. It looks at the specific media content, such as films, games and YouTubers, that 12- to 19-year-olds in Switzerland prefer to consume.

Why Swiss YouTubers are underrepresented is unclear. "One possibility is that YouTube's algorithms are set to the language region and not to the national borders. In addition, young people consume more news about their stars from neighbouring countries with Bravo & Co.", says ZHAW media psychologist Daniel Süss.

In Switzerland, however, the trend towards "YouTubisation" is also evident in local Swiss media with YouTube channels such as "Youngbulanz" or SRF's "Zwei am Morge". However, the same phenomenon can also be observed in other Swiss cultural formats: There are hardly any Swiss films and games in the top rankings among young people.

Recognition of product placement can be difficult for young people

The most popular YouTubers are in the genres of Comedy and Entertainment, followed by How to & Styles. The most popular genre Comedy is well received regardless of age, gender or region. How to & Styles and People, on the other hand, are preferred by girls in particular. The most popular YouTubers such as BibisBeautyPalace are also exclusively present in these two categories.

The videos are often about parodies, games, pranks, challenges or life hacks. The YouTubers sometimes communicate by singing or rapping instead of using spoken text. With pranks in particular, however, it is not always obvious whether they are real or staged, and whether young people recognise the irony or staged pranks. With product placement, too, it may often not be clear to them where the line is crossed into advertising. "New forms and channels of communication make this distinction difficult. Parents and teachers must therefore help young people to distinguish when something is staged and when it is not," says Michael In Albon, Youth Media Protection Officer at Swisscom.

Popular shooter games and movie series

Film series such as Harry Potter, Fast & Furious, Star Wars and Hunger Games have been the most popular among young people in Switzerland across all film mentions for years. Science fiction/fantasy films are by far the most popular. The action/thriller film genre was named just under half as often by Swiss young people, with dramas and comedies following in third and fourth place. Science fiction and fantasy were combined as a genre, as many of the favourite films named can be assigned to both genres.

When it comes to games, girls and boys differ much more in terms of whether they game at all and have a favourite game than they do in terms of genres. There, the first three games coincide between the sexes, although not in the order: GTA, FIFA and Call of Duty are the three favourite games of gaming boys and girls in Switzerland. The most popular game genre is shooter games, closely followed by sports games and open-world games. In third and fourth place are action-adventure games and racing games.

Age limits for games often not respected

In the case of their favourite films, two thirds of the young people who named one comply with the age rating. The videos of their favourite YouTubers are also age-appropriate for two thirds of young people. In contrast, only one in three teen gamers abide by it. "It amazed me that parents apparently don't take the age limits of games seriously with their children. They are actually always visible on the packaging or in the online shop," says Michael In Albon.

The gender differences in the age ratings for films and games are striking, as girls adhere to them significantly more than boys. "Presumably, younger girls tend to prefer genres that contain less violence and are therefore rated lower. Or the boys goad each other with having already seen or played something that they would actually be too young for," says Daniel Suess. "Before buying films and video games, parents should therefore check the age ratings and also talk about them with their children."

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