How YouTube preferences and 4-H relate

A few popular categories year-after-year on YouTube include how-to videos and commentary or editorial-style reviews, and youth can apply their interests in these to involvement in 4-H.

LENOIR, NC (May 18, 2023) by Sarah Kocher — Think of a memorable video or a tutorial that helped you finish a project. What are the chances it was on YouTube?

“YouTube tops the 2022 teen online landscape among the platforms covered in the Center’s new survey, as it is used by 95% of teens,” the Pew Research Center reported in 2022.

A 4-H member works on a leather project. Project work aligns with the interests of individual youth and is a match for youth who enjoy how-to videos.

YouTube is a social platform stuffed full of video content on everything from adorable pets to sports highlights and everything in between, and the Pew Research Center also shared that around one-in-five U.S. teens visit or use YouTube “almost constantly” in their report titled, “Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022.”

For parents and families concerned about the amount of time their young people are spending on screens, 4-H has a few suggestions for where some of that energy could be redirected based on their video preferences.

A few popular categories year-after year on YouTube include how-to videos and commentary or editorial-style reviews.

How-to videos

“Learn by doing” summarizes the way 4-H teaches youth new skills and provides educational experiences, and fans of how-to or do-it-yourself videos will find themselves excited by this approach.

The Circuit Breakers 4-H Club did not watch videos about computer science or programming this spring at their club meetings. They actually spent time programming a drone, learning through trial and error, as well as being supported by mentors. This group would be a good place for youth who enjoy gaming and technology videos as well.

A 4-H member speaks at a STEM conference. Youth can develop their voice and often discover passions through experiences in 4-H.

4-H Saddle Club members learn about horses by interacting with them, their tack and equipment and feed. Overtime, they form a body of knowledge through experiences on how to care for a horse, even if they do not have one of their own. That is more meaningful than just a highlight reel.

Youth in 4-H can also explore a project like geology or photography individually, if there is not currently a club or group that meets to learn together.

The topic a child chooses isn’t the most important part of project work. It is the process of completing a project – goal setting, project experiences and reflection – that helps youth develop skills in recordkeeping, organization, and community service.


Teens and other youth who have ideas and opinions about a subject can build their speaking and leadership skills through 4-H.

Youth at any age can prepare presentations about their areas of interest, and they can use inspiration from their favorite YouTube creators to organize and share their own ideas and experiences. Clubs also offer youth opportunities to plan programs and be leaders as club officers.

Youth pose together at the 4-H Ignite conference. Many teens use their cell phones or other devices to access social media like YouTube.

Even with these connections, it might be difficult to encourage a young person to decrease their screen time. The same Pew Center report in 2022 said, “A majority of teens who use at least one of the platforms asked about in the survey “almost constantly” say it would be hard to give up social media, with 32% saying it would be very hard.” Luckily, youth development is a process, and helping young people develop an openness to challenge and discovery in real life can contribute to them thriving in the future.

To learn more about how youth can participate in 4-H or what is currently offered locally, contact Caldwell County 4-H Agent Sarah Kocher at Families can also view local 4-H information online at

Caldwell County 4-H is a proud member agency of United Way.

Sarah Kocher is the 4-H Youth Development Agent with Caldwell County Cooperative Extension. The Caldwell County Cooperative Extension Center, 120 Hospital Ave. NE #1 in Lenoir, provides access to resources of N.C. State University and N.C. A&T State University through educational programs and publications.

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