Youtube on a laptop

What is YouTube?

You may heard friends or family talking about the mysterious world of YouTube but never really understood what it is. Read on to discover what this service has to offer.

The simplest description is that YouTube is a free website where you can share your own videos, watch other peoples’ videos and comment on them. It has got to the level of popularity and use now that for many people it has become their default for watching videos and many people even use it as a verb.

When you first visit you are faced with many small images that can have some pretty weird titles!


Each of these images represents a video uploaded to YouTube by a user just like you. The first video ever uploaded was called "Me at the Zoo" but since then millions of videos have been uploaded with over 300 hours of video uploaded every minute! Suffice to say that there is a good chance you will find something that you would like to watch. There is a wide and varied selection of videos from songs and films, tutorials on crafts and cookery to more silly and funny videos.

If you want to look for something specific you can click on the search box at the top of the screen and type in what you want to watch. It doesn’t have to be the exact wording and you could just type general themes like “English recipes”, “1980s tv shows” or “songs from the Rolling Stones”. Once you press enter, you will see a long list of videos that you might like to watch.

Once you choose your video it takes up most of the screen but on the right of the screen is another list of videos that YouTube guesses may also interest you. Underneath the video is a description of it written by the person who uploaded it. You can click on the person’s name to see their YouTube profile which is known as their channel. For example, you can see Sky News’ channel here and the channel for Dolly Parton here.

YouTube makes its money by showing adverts before each clip but you can often choose to skip the advert by pressing the large “skip ad” button on the bottom right of the video. There are many people who make their own money on YouTube by producing their own videos and getting a percentage of the money raised by adverts. With the most popular videos on YouTube being seen by millions of people, you can see how profits can add up. Ryan Kaji made headlines last year when he made $26 million in 2019 at the age of 8! His YouTube channel Ryan’s World has has 39 billion views and his videos range from toy reviews to science experiments and arts and crafts.

We often use YouTube video in Signpost, so please tell us about your favourite videos so that we can share your finds with others.