An astonishing 75 percent of children aspire to be YouTubers, according to mediakix. Being able to make a living by creating content and amassing subscribers is clearly something that children and young adults find desirable. For example, a search on Social Blade reveals that Emma Chamberlain, a popular YouTuber with almost seven million subscribers, is projected to make $2.6 million annually, an incredible feat for someone just 17 years old.
Over the last decade, the popularity of social media influencers has been on a constant uptick. Influencers, specifically YouTubers, are becoming the teenage population’s new role models; ask a middle or high school student who their favorite celebrity is and chances are, they’ll respond with Emma Chamberlain, James Charles, or PewDiePie, to name a few.
Because these digital-era influencers give their followers a more “realistic” glimpse into their life, they seem relatable to a younger generation still trying to find their identity. Traditional celebrities such as models, actors, or singers tend to show less of their personal lives, instead carefully curating an unrelatable highlight reel of their lives.
“I love watching Hannah Meloche on YouTube because she is a senior in high school just like me,” said Hannah Jones ’19.
However, being a YouTuber or social media influencer comes at a price. A large amount of content creators have opened up about the anxiety, stress and/or mental illness that comes with their career.
One example is Elle Mills, a YouTuber who has created many videos touching on her mental illness, including a video titled “Burnt Out At 19.” In the video, Mills discusses how her YouTube career is more difficult than she ever expected it would be. “I’m constantly alone, always unhealthily stressed, and always feel this overwhelming pressure…my anxiety and depression keep getting worse and worse,” says Mills in her video.
Another example is Liza Koshy, a social media influencer who got her start on Vine, a platform dedicated to sharing six-second video clips. After Vine was shut down in 2017, she moved on to creating YouTube videos, amassing 16.5 million subscribers. Koshy’s career continued to grow, starring in a YouTube Original, Liza on Demand, creating a clothing line, and breaking into more traditional media. Because of this, Koshy has taken a hiatus from posting on her main YouTube channel, where she has not posted in almost a year.
In a video on James Charles’ channel titled “Doing Liza Koshy’s Makeup,” Koshy explains why she took a break from posting on YouTube.
“I just wanted to work with other people. I had been working in my living room and just, like, screaming at myself for the past, like, two, three and a half years,” said Koshy. Producing YouTube videos completely on her own was lonely and tolling at times and lacked the social aspect other careers can bring.
Although a YouTube career may seem exciting to teenagers, they should be aware of the toll constant video creation can take on influencers and consider that it may not be for everyone.