YouTube: So wholesome it's the new Disney

There's little violence on the video site, compared to television. New refrain: "Hey honey, whadya say we stay in tonight with the kids and watch cats on skateboards?"

Apple pie, baseball and YouTube. It doesn't get much more wholesome than that.

If you were asked to name the media brand most associated with making wholesome films, chances are you'd say "Disney."

Step aside Mickey. YouTube's in town, and at least in the "violence" category, it's far more family friendly than anything on television, according to researchers from Indiana University.

"Compared to television, the percentage of YouTube videos that contain violence is much lower," the researchers say, as reported by Harvard University's Joan Shorenstein Center.

Only 13 percent of the 2,400 YouTube videos studied contained violence, compared to a whopping 70 percent for prime time television shows - "a level that has stay roughly constant for decades" -  the study notes.

More than half of the YouTube violence occurred in only 1.3 percent of the videos, which tended to display scenes from video games.

One possible explanation: Users who generate content for YouTube can't afford the money it takes to produce scenes of violence. Or it could be that different values surface when individuals produce for YouTube than when "corporates" produce for TV, Shorenstein notes.

"It is clear from this study that when production is the responsibility of the masses rather than in the hands of the few, violence becomes a much scarcer commodity," the researchers say. "Moreover, when violence is broached, it is generally less glamorized and less trivialized."

The study first appeared in the Journal of Communication (subscription required) last fall. Shorenstein published its review a few weeks ago.

I have yet to confirm this but indications are that increasingly, husbands are turning to their wives on Friday nights and saying, "Hey honey, whadya say we stay in tonight with the kids and watch cats on skateboards."

Photo: Scott Bauer, USDA ARS via Wikimedia.

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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