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Comunicación y sociedad

versión impresa ISSN 0188-252X

Comun. soc  no.33 Guadalajara sep./dic. 2018

http://dx.doi.org/10.32870/cys.v0i33.7080 

Transmedia Literacy

Child YouTubers and the Video Creation Process: Evidence of Transmedia Competences in Action

1Universidad de Lima, Perú. Correo electrónico: lrleon@ulima.edu.pe

Abstract

This article analyzes the process of creating and publishing videos developed by Peruvian child YouTubers to understand the type of skills that are demonstrated in this process through the digital ethnography method. The results show certain technical, social, and critical skills that refer to a different experience lived within the contemporary collaborative culture.

Keywords: digital literacy; transmedia literacy; video; YouTube; YouTuber

Introduction

This article analyzes the process of creating and publishing videos on YouTube developed by Peruvian child YouTubers (between 7 and 11 years old) to understand the type of skills that are demonstrated in this process. The study of this age group is relevant due to their intensive use of media and consumption of digital content. According to IPSOS Peru (2017), 54% of (urban) Peruvian Internet users aged 8 to 11 had at least one social media account. In addition, 87% of this same group usually joins YouTube, while 38% follows a YouTuber. In this sense, it is not surprising that child YouTubers who consume and create content are undergoing a new digital experience, a new-generation trend.

In this introductory section, we review and present frameworks related to digital literacy, new media, and transmedia, while in the results section, we describe the process of creating and publishing videos developed by children. On the one hand, frameworks will identify skills developed during practice. On the other hand, the description of this practice will provide evidence to identify new skills and characterize them more extensively.

The research is limited to the New Studies of Literacy in its digital version. In this sense Mills (2010, p. 247) proposes the “change of emphasis from the practice of researching reading and writing based on print material to include new textual practices that are mediated by digital technology.” This includes written texts in multimedia environments, such as websites, instant messaging, e-zines, online fanfiction, blogs, forums, wikis, movie making, remixing, vlogging and video games.

The literature related to digital literacy is wide and diverse in terms of the skills that each one covers. In his article, Bawden (2001) describes different terminology related to digital literacies. The author believes that book literacy, media literacy and computer literacy emerge to complement traditional literacy for the purposes of dealing with more complex information and technology.

The term “digital literacy” was coined by Gilster, who defined it as “the ability to understand and use information in multiple formats from a wide variety of sources when presented through computers” (cited in Bawden, 2001). Following this author, the concept also includes understanding information beyond the manner in which it is presented, emphasizing multimedia texts (Lanham 1995) in addition to multiple traditional sources. Critical skills related to information and its evaluation was also included.

Lankshear and Knobel (2006), Buckingham (2015), and Jenkins, Purushotma, Weigel, Clinton, and Robison (2009) attempt to broaden the perspective of digital literacy. The first two authors suggest going beyond the purely informational approach and propose the idea of digital literacies, in plural, given the diversity of practices, contexts, and means, applying skills in a different way. Thus, Lankshear and Knobel (2006) note that much of the information about digital media must be understood broadly, for example, thinking of opinions or fictional stories.

Emphasizing the critical aspect of digital literacy and going beyond the purely technical aspects and its functional definition, Buckingham (2015) suggests that media education offers a critical framework to define digital literacy as a starting point. It is based on four key components and includes not only consuming digital media but also producing content: 1) representation: what interpretations, values, and ideologies of the world are embodied and represented and to whom do they belong?; 2) language: understanding how language works, including broader codes and conventions of particular genres; 3) production: who communicates with whom and why?, being aware of the commercial influence that the content can carry; and 4) audience: how does the media address audiences and how does it use and respond to them?

By observing the content that young people are creating in participatory culture, Jenkins et al. (2009) proposes the framework of New Media Literacies. They are conceptualized as social skills (when interacting with communities) and are composed of skills such as play (experiencing environments to solve problems), interpretation or performance (adopting alternative identities), simulation (interpreting and constructing models of real-world processes), appropriation (remixing media content), multitasking (changing the focus of attention to details in the environment as needed), distribution of knowledge (interacting with tools to expand mental capacities), collective intelligence (accumulating knowledge collectively and comparing knowledge with others to achieve a common goal), judgment (assessing the credibility of information sources), transmedia navigation (following the flow of stories and information through different media), networking (searching, synthesizing and disseminating information of different types, including publishing one’s own ideas or creations) and negotiation (respecting multiple perspectives and understanding alternative social norms), without denying the need for traditional literacy and media. Thus, this notion is related to the daily experience and the enjoyment of contemporary communication practices of young people, together with the co-construction of knowledge and collaborative work.

Pointing to contemporary changes in culture, media ecology, and emerging user practices, Scolari (2016) proposes the concept of transmedia literacy, which follows the approaches of Buckingham and Jenkins, as a different understanding of skills for collaborative culture. This concept addresses the ecology of new media, transmedia narratives, collaborative cultures, and prosumers, based on the experience of children and young people. Transmedia literacy is defined as “a group of skills, practices, values, awareness, and learning and exchange strategies developed and applied in the context of the new collaborative culture” (Scolari, 2016, p. 8) (See Table 1). In fact, the concept goes beyond the cognitive and pragmatic spheres, which also includes one’s emotional dimensions (Ferrés, 2014, cited in Scolari, 2016), without “merely proposing a simple, updated list of competencies” (Scolari, 2016, p. 8).

Table 1 Literacy, Media Literacy, and Transmedia Literacy 

Literacy Media Literacy Transmedia Literacy
Media Support Books and other print media Broadcasting (TV) Digital networks
Media Semiotics Verbal (reading/ writing) Multimodal (audiovisual media) Multimodal (interactive media/ transmedia)
Appealing to the
Subject
As illiterate As a consumer (viewer) As a prosumer
Action Objective Develop literacy Develop critical viewers and, to a lesser extent, producers Develop critical prosumers
Learning Environment Formal (school) Formal (school) Informal (outside school)
Theoretical References Linguistic Theory of the effects of media Cultural studies/ Media ecology

Source: Scolari (2016).

In summary, the approaches collected and presented in this section comprise three types of skills: technical, social, and critical. In addition, it is important to note that they refer to the consumption of production of, and interaction with information, but they also go beyond just this.

Digital Audiovisual Production

Given the nature of the social practice of children creating and publishing YouTube videos, we follow Hillrichs (2016) who proposes an analytical framework for audiovisual production. The author offers a more specific look than that based on digital or media literacy, which although important, could be very general and broad. Thus, the analysis covers the following steps: (1) preproduction; (2) filming; (3) postproduction; and (4) publication and display. This analytical framework helps us to organize the practice and identify and analyze the competences developed.

Preproduction includes all activities prior to making and filming the video. It involves planning and selecting the idea. Filming includes recording the audiovisual material. Postproduction consists of editing the recorded material and including aesthetic and expressive resources to communicate the initial idea. Publication and display begin when the videos are published on the YouTube channel.

Source: Adapted from Hillrichs (2016).

Figure 1 Production Stages 

Methodology

The findings of this article are the product of broader exploratory research on digital practices of child YouTubers and their related aspects: materials, meanings, competences and social interaction. The research questions that guide the article are (1) What kinds of competences are developed in the process of creating and publishing YouTube videos? And (2) how do the identified skills relate to digital literacy frameworks?

To investigate these practices carried out by children in the privacy of their homes (often in their bedrooms), and which also involve studying the digital environment, the digital ethnography method was chosen. According to Pink et al. (2016):

Digital ethnography establishes a particular type of digital ethnography practice that starts with the idea that digital media and technology are part of the daily and most spectacular worlds inhabited by people (page 7).

Thus, seeking to cover the width of these everyday worlds, techniques related to both the digital environment (as a follow-up to the video channels and the interactions that took place there as well as the participants’ analysis of the videos), and the face-to-face environment2 (participant observation, semi-structured interviews, drawings, and discussions about their own videos and videos on other channels) were applied. In order to capture their experiences, they were asked for demonstrations of their practices and a tour of the domestic spaces where they used digital devices. Applying the techniques, we promoted the creation of a collaborative space (children and researcher) to reflect on these practices (Pink, Sinanan, Hjorth, & Horst, 2016). It was also proposed that the children communicate with the researcher through the digital media that they considered the most appropriate, conducting a media follow-up of their digital practices and the events developed around them.3

The research participants consisted of four YouTubers from Lima, children under the age of 11, two boys (Sebastian, 10, and Mateo, 8) and two girls (Chiara, 7, and Camila, 11);4 they were all in the middle/upper class. The participants were selected under the snowball technique and convenience sampling, due to the difficulty of accessing families interested in participating in ethnographic research. Participants met the criteria of having at least five videos made during the three months prior to fieldwork.5 Participants live in a rich context of digital media and use the Internet intensively to develop a wide range of activities in their daily lives. All of them are prosumers, meaning they are both producers and consumers of Internet content. In particular, we chose child YouTubers who create, publish, and share their own videos publicly on the YouTube platform.

The fieldwork was conducted between mid-October and the end of November 2016, making weekly visits to children at their homes. In total, 16 visits were conducted, which meant 18 hours of fieldwork, with most of the discussion being recorded on audio6 and some on video, in addition to completing field notes. More than 90 percent of the videos published by the participants were analyzed, equivalent to more than 13 hours of YouTube videos. The researcher also compiled all the field information on interaction with the participants.

During the fieldwork, we were especially careful with the ethical aspects of research work with children. The initial contact was established by phone with the participants’ parents and there was a signed consent for them. The children were asked for their consent as participants in the research in a printed format. Although YouTube videos are public information to the extent that they are freely accessible through the Internet, changing their names and usernames has protected the identity of the participants. After the research was completed, results were shared with the parents, also providing them with material including information about children, upbringing, and digital media. All the material collected was analyzed through inductive coding, looking for trends and exceptions (Taylor & Bodgan, 1987).

Results

Preproduction

Preproduction starts with the YouTuber deciding to create a video. The origin of video creation is in watching videos to be used as inspiration. However, being aware of the number of videos that exist on YouTube, they have clarity that their videos need a stamp of originality to differentiate them from the rest. Camila tells us how she looks for ideas and ensures originality in her videos:

You can see videos to get ideas as well as upload them, but before making the video you can see videos about that [topic] and you can take parts of the video and you do them with your own words so that they will entertain people ... If they say, “hello, how are you?” I’m not going to copy, you know? I have to be as original as possible, because if not, they criticize you and, besides, I feel like it’s plagiarism, so to speak, of that person ... You take ideas, but it’s not that you do them the same way.

The children note that the YouTube platform has its own dynamics, and they believe a video will be well received if the topic is trending. Camila takes the example of a challenge that was trending, the milk rainbow challenge: “For example, if it’s trending to make something a rainbow, now you have to do it because that will gain more views too.”

Another aspect within the preproduction stage is the audience conceptualization. Although it would seem obvious, recognizing an audience involves addressing it consistently in terms of language, format, and content. For example, Mateo, in his gameplay videos, communicates in English, as the English-speaking Diep.io gamer community7 is larger than the Spanish-speaking one.

More specifically, vloggers consider certain resources to organize filming as a production method. The location, costumes, lighting, and noise are aspects that Camila plans, and which Chiara is aware of. Camila, for example, states that to record a video, it must be “during the day and with good lighting,” and clarifies, “I like to see the outdoors in the background, I don’t like the noise.” Chiara tells us that she learned to make videos by watching other YouTubers, taking the location into account: “I learned to be calm to record the video ... and I am aware that I must be in an area that is beautiful to record the video like the one we recorded”.

Through fieldwork, we found that there is also planning of the discussion in video preproduction, as a free script followed by the vloggers, and searching for and processing information on the Internet. For example, for her video “Valentine’s Day Stats,” Camila searched for information on the Internet about the ways in which different countries and cultures celebrate Valentine’s Day. She chose the most interesting information and made a list of these, in addition to a very brief explanation, and wrote them in the notes app on her cell phone.

Filming

Our YouTubers prepare what they need for their video and turn on the camera. Camila knows that she has the postproduction abilities to be able to fine-tune her video, and she records with that understanding. When she makes a mistake, she stops talking for a moment and then repeats the phrase without stopping the recording.

Normally, both YouTubers do the shooting alone. With ingenuity, they take on all the functions that are minimally needed to record the video. Camila discovered that when she records her videos alone and wants to move the camera, or use high or low angles, it is easier to do it with her cell phone because her iPad is heavier and needs to be held with both hands. To have a fixed camera position, Camila places it on a tripod, on a table, and Chiara puts her iPad on a stack of books.

The process of filming gameplay videos is completely different, since only a video screenshot is taken while the gamers play. Sebastian includes voiceovers while playing, narrating his play or speaking in general about the characters or other games that he likes. Mateo, on the other hand, does not include his voice in his videos. To finish their videos, they go through postproduction.

Sebastian shoots his stop motion videos manually, with the help of his parents. They taught him the traditional technique, using a digital camera and a mini tripod to capture image after image and then animate them.

Postproduction

The postproduction process is primarily based on the use of software to edit and include resources or aesthetic and expressive elements with sound, fixed images, or animations that are added to the video.

Editing

Editing is a process that our four participants recognize as important to create a quality video. Referring to the importance of editing, Camila tells us the following:

When you go to record the video with different shots, if you are saying “hello, how are you?” like in a movie that is shot from behind you and from your side and from the front, to make it more entertaining. So, you don’t get bored by seeing their face and everything ... but recording it will be difficult ... Several scenes are needed.

When analyzing their videos, we noticed a process of discovery, development of editing skills, and production progress, especially in the cases of Sebastian and Camila. In both cases, their first videos were made in a more rudimentary way, and as they gained experience and developed skills they used new tools and resources. Their parents are a fundamental element, not just as a permanent source of knowledge but also as an initial motivation to learn the basics of editing. After this first attempt, the children discovered other techniques, aesthetics and tools to develop their product by themselves, using other YouTube videos as sources. At the same time, this becomes a source of information thanks to the variety of tutorials in this medium: “sometimes I watched some videos that were cut and I searched there for everything (YouTube) and there it showed me how to ‘edit’ and everything” (Sebastian).

At the beginning, Camila edited the video in a more traditional way, transferring the material to a laptop and editing it there. First, she bought the iMovie software and an app to learn how to use it. We were surprised to witness that, currently, the entire editing process is done on her cell phone. She explains that she prefers not to edit on a computer “because if you make a mistake clicking, you lose the whole edit. Everything is gone”.

To produce his stop motion videos, Sebastian developed different skills. Using the photographs he shot manually, he learned to edit from his father, with the editing software Windows Movie Maker. Later, on his own, he found an application that he saw being used in stop motion videos, Lego Movie Maker, which greatly simplified the process. His gameplay videos, however, are not edited. These are videos of typical games by a gamer in training that enjoys recording and showing his daily practice.

Although Chiara knows the importance of editing to have a quality video, she has not yet developed this competence. We believe that Sebastian and Chiara are aware of the standards and ways of recording and post producing a video; nevertheless, the production and filming process is more a space for experimentation, creation, and trial and error. In addition, we think that, for them, video creation is a game that they record in front of the camera and their enjoyment is more important than the final product.

Mateo has a very particular aesthetic, narrative, and expressive style. On his gameplay channel, he edits his videos with a specific structure and narration. His videos are structured into teaser, intro and full game episode. He communicates very effectively through audiovisual language, choosing the most interesting shots that are also based on a game he is very skilled in. His gameplay videos are narrated. Important moments of the games are presented and their outcomes mark the end of the video.

Visual and Sound Effects

Regarding video postproduction, Camila demonstrates more advanced knowledge than the other participants. She includes inserts in her videos, which facilitate understanding her message. For example, in the video in which she gives movie recommendations to watch on Netflix, she accompanies her narration with images of the film poster so that people can identify them more easily.

Source: YouTube.com channel.8

Figures 2 and 3 Video Screenshots of Camila 

Mateo includes 2D graphic elements as illustrations obtained from memes, emojis and other sources, to be more explicit with the intentionality of the shot or with what he wants to emphasize in his video. An example is the use of the troll face to communicate that what he is doing in his game is annoying (Figure 4). Another example is the use of the smiling doll in the video to show funny moments in the game (Figure 5).

Source: YouTube.com channel.

Figures 4 and 5 Screenshots of Two of Mateo’s Videos 

Mateo also adds sound to his videos to enhance the effects of what we see happening, or to draw attention to specific issues of the game. In one of his videos, the YouTuber adds a sound effect, you hear a baby crying, while in the game, he manages to get rid of a tank. In another video, a large red arrow and a smiling face with a thumbs-up show the scorecard so that the audience can see him on the list of best players (Figures 6 and 7).

Source: YouTube.com channel.

Figures 6 and 7 Screenshot of Mateo’s Video and Close-up 

Mateo has become very sophisticated in handling the audiovisual language and the expressive possibilities given by the text of the game using elements of cyberculture as graphic elements such as troll faces, which is remarkable for his limitations of not being able to speak.

Titling

Titles are used by most of our participants for various purposes, including establishing the structure of their videos and expressing themselves. Camila uses titles at the beginning of her channel, to present it and mark the sections of her videos, when she has them. An example is the video titled “Things We All Hate,” in which she adds a title to move from one action (“thing”) to another (Figures 8 and 9).

Source: YouTube.com channel.

Figures 8 and 9 Screenshots of Camila’s Videos 

Mateo also uses written text to communicate interesting strategies, describe what is happening (“At this point, [the game] got boring, so I tried to take down the tank”), ask for feedback from the audience (“Comment on what you think about this new tank”) or give advice or suggestions to other gamers who play Diep.io (“Don’t upgrade. Play with the default tank until level 30”) (Figures 10 to 13). Thus, written comments have a functionality equivalent to speaking.

Source: YouTube.com channel.

Figures 10, 11, 12, and 13 Screenshots of Mateo’s Videos 

Publication and Display

Choosing a Video Title

Choosing a video title is important according to two of our YouTubers because it is one of the elements that differentiate a video from others in the plethora of videos found on this platform. We observe that both Mateo and Camila take great care in choosing a video title, guided by the criteria they have found in famous YouTubers’ videos.

Mateo says titles should be unattractive, which is achieved with a generic title. As an example, he notes “Virtual Reality,” which is the title he saw on the PewDiePie video. In addition, the title should be “all uppercase and screaming, nothing else”. Although it is surprising that Mateo thinks the title does not have to be attractive, he has a very interesting argument based on his belief in how users search for videos:

Because people don’t search with all the details, people look for ‘bottle challenge’. They do not look for ‘episode 7777 the bottle challenge’. They don’t look for that. They look for ‘The bottle challenge’ and that’s it.

And surprisingly, when we searched for videos of the Diep.io game under various keywords (for example “diep.io mothership”, “diep. io troll”), Mateo’s videos always appear in the first results among hundreds of thousands.9

Contrary to Mateo, Camila thinks that titles should be attractive to stand out. To do so, they have to be specific. Camila tells us:

You can’t put “recipes,” for example. You have to be specific to get attention, you know? ... If you’re going to make Oreo recipes or something like that, you have to write “Oreo recipes”, or for example “Oreo brownie”, you know? The main information, something like that.

Although they use opposite criteria, the level of reflection and analysis that both YouTubers give to the importance and construction of their video titles stands out.

Thumbnails

Thumbnails are the small images that accompany the video. When you click on them, the content is displayed. Before publishing the video, a thumbnail is chosen, and although it seems like just a detail, our YouTubers focus on choosing them carefully. According to Camila, the importance of thumbnails is complementary to that of the titles, since they are another factor to choose the video that will be played: “Thumbnails also attract attention. For example, you name a video: ‘My afternoon routine’. There are a lot of videos with that title. At least what I choose, or what I want to see are the videos for which the thumbnail catches my attention.”

Broadcasting: Strategies for Popularity

Publishing a video that has a good title, an attractive thumbnail and good content is not enough to be seen on YouTube. Even the smallest

YouTuber is aware of the need to have some broadcasting strategy. Hers was word of mouth spread among her school friends:

How do you think the videos should be so that they have many, many, many views? Funny, silly, and advertised it in your homeroom ... Not only in your homeroom, where you live; go to a store and say “hello sir, watch this channel,” “hello miss or ma’am” ... We were talking (in my homeroom) about YouTubers and I asked them: “Do you want to watch my channel?” “What? Your channel?” “Yes, my channel. It’s called Chiara’s World, look it up”.

Other YouTubers are finding strategies on how to be popular on the platform though experience. The first is deciding when to publish a video. Camila has noticed her audience’s consumption habits: the day and time of publication have an impact on the initial popularity of her videos. That is why she chooses the time when most of her channel’s audience is connected and willing to watch videos. In this regard, she tells us, “The time when I have more views is in the afternoon, on Sundays at three, four, around that time,” and when she does so, the video has about 5 000 views on the first day of publication.

A second strategy is to achieve more views and subscribers through the network of contacts of their own subscribers. From the beginning, she was looking for those who watched her and kept sharing her videos with their contacts to reach more people. In this manner, she came up with specific activities that achieve that goal. One was to greet the first ten subscribers who shared her video on Facebook. The other was a contest based on a video she published. The video showed the choreography of a Justin Timberlake song, and the contest consisted of Camila’s followers recording and publishing the same choreography that she did in her video, under the hashtag #elconcursodeCamila [#Camila’scontest]. The prize was a collaboration10 and the sending of a shout out; both were her own ideas.

Mateo impressed us from the start because he had more than 34 000 subscribers and more than 10 million views on his channel. We were intrigued by how he had achieved these figures through his Diep.io gameplay. He told us that everything started with changing the types of videos. For example, changing from his daily life videos to his gameplay, he witnessed the explosive growth of subscribers and views, which was sudden and unexpected. However, our YouTuber does not know how he achieved such popularity.

First, I told my dad and all my siblings to subscribe and then I had around a hundred subscribers ... And when I had 105, that’s when I started video games and then I deleted all the other videos. I stayed and made one with the video games and that’s when the next day I opened my channel and had 10 000 subscribers ... and everyone loved it. I do not know if it was the people who normally watch my videos or if they were normal people, like other people. And then each time, I got subscribers more slowly because fewer and fewer people played the game.

But he has some guesses to explain his rapid popularity. In his understanding, content is key and in his case, Diep.io was trending when he started producing his videos. That is the reason why he left his channel. According to Mateo, “the game has gone out of style and no one likes to watch the game anymore.”

On the other hand, Mateo was not very impressed by the number of subscribers he had. Because of his experience of consuming YouTube videos, he is aware that his statistics are far from famous YouTubers, but he recognizes the different levels: “Yes, [it is] a low number for someone famous. But for someone like my friends, it’s great.”

In the broadcasting process, Chiara was surprised by the number of views and comments she had on one of her videos. The subject seems to have been controversial: the YouTuber expressed her dislike for the popular series Soy Luna [I am Luna]. Followers of the series made negative and even offensive comments to the girl, and their opponents defended her. Chiara showed a great openness to people’s opinions and points of view:

Chiara: I think what happened was ... that I was stating my opinion in my video and suddenly people said no, yes ... some admitted I was right and others didn’t ...

What if they say nasty things to you, what do you do?

Chiara: Normal.

Does it hurt, do you feel sad?

Chiara: No (…) because that’s the people’s opinions. There are some who agree, others who don’t.

Discussion and conclusions

What does this evidence say about the children’s skills? The participating Peruvian child YouTubers deploy technical, social and critical skills in content production. Their levels of development of their abilities are dissimilar, however, the reflection and recognition of certain processes associated with skills are common to all of them. The technical skills observed are those that correspond to searching for and using Internet information to create their videos. As for the audiovisual digital tools, they use devices to record videos and (three of them) use software for editing.

Likewise, we found evidence of social skills, linked to audiovisual production, which are geared toward video production, informal learning and publication. As for the appropriation ability, the children’s videos contain material taken from other cultural products, in graphic formats (emojis, memes) and audio (sound effects). The children use collective intelligence to learn how to use editing software from YouTube videos and to consult and learn with (and from) other children of their age in other countries.

We noticed content distribution practices that speak of social skills that are also framed in the critical component related to the audience. By playing the role of YouTuber, the children are fully aware that they are aiming at a target audience. This audience is conceptualized and they build specific strategies to reach it and build loyalty. Video publication through detailed selection of titles and thumbnails refers to networking abilities. Negotiation could be focused on the ability to deal with positive and negative comments from the audience and their open and positive attitude toward it.

In addition to the audience, we found other evidence of issues that reflect the critical component in their approach to digital media, associated with the use of audiovisual language on YouTube. Children understand and know how to describe the rhetoric and grammar of YouTube videos, how it works and how to thrive in it. First level is the audiovisual language, for example, the importance of editing to communicate, the use of visual or sound effects, or structuring videos with titles. Second level is the language of specific techniques and the construction of narration through them, such as using stop motion animation. Third level involves understanding YouTube genres. Children know how to conceptualize a gameplay video or a haul and the types of meanings, uses, and communication they imply, such as the importance of playful style in vlogs, for example. A fourth level is the use of language that includes aesthetics and elements of the cyberculture such as emojis and trends that work to make a video more attractive and viewed, e.g. challenges like the popular water bottle challenge.

And what does the evidence of undeveloped skills tell us? On the one hand, the practice of creating and publishing videos seems to develop certain specific skills while others are not being addressed because they are not linked to the development process of that practice. In this sense, the idea of multiple literacies would allow us to understand, for example, that vlogging literacy would be composed of specific skills.

Reflecting on the sample of participating child YouTubers, we highlight the importance of school as a space primarily to develop critical skills that demand a higher level of thought. For example, one aspect that did not emerge in the children’s discussions was macro issues related to the platform’s policy (Massanari, 2017). YouTube has a commercial platform proposal where “the central interest is not in the content itself but the vertical integration of search engines for content, social media and advertising” (van Dijck, 2009, p.42). Thus, YouTube becomes a consumer-oriented platform from the functionality of its software, design, policies and standards that constitute the culture of the platform, which ultimately motivates or shapes the narratives of its users (De Ridder, 2013) and certain types of behaviors.

In summary, the evidence tells us about a different experience and sensitivity, lived within the contemporary collaborative culture. As Lankshear and Knobel (2006) state, it is not just about information; and following the general definition of Transmedia Literacy from Scolari (2016), it is “a set of skills, practices, values, feelings and learning and exchange strategies developed and applied in the context of the new collaborative culture” (p. 8). The skills are based on technical (functional) and critical information skills and media literacy and go further beyond them.

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2Unlike the study by Gehl (2014), which was limited to the online sphere due to the nature of the environment chosen for its research, the Dark Web Social Network, in our research we chose a methodology that also covered the offline environment (face-to-face), considering the link between online and offline practices of the participating children and the specific interest in competences displayed in these practices.

3Although the application of these techniques was initially proposed, some children avoided employing them. This indicates the personality, age, and personal preferences of the participants themselves. It is also relevant to indicate that, in the case of the youngest participant, the media chosen involved mediated communication: the media follow-up was done through the WhatsApp account associated with the mother’s mobile phone.

4Both girls had birthdays during fieldwork.

5This criterion was established to avoid analyzing abandoned YouTube channels.

6For the analysis, all the audio recordings were transcribed.

7Diep.io is a MMOG, or massive multiplayer online game, which is part of the .io game family (http://diep.io/).

8The channel’s web address will be omitted in all references to maintain the children’s anonymity.

9It should be noted that the YouTube algorithm is governed by several factors and therefore, being prioritized in the search results on the platform does not necessarily correspond to higher quality content.

10YouTubers call “collaborations” the act of making a joint video, usually between a known YouTuber and another who is less known, to promote the second.

Received: December 15, 2017; Accepted: May 25, 2018

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