The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus

The Independent Voice of Southern Methodist University Since 1915

The Daily Campus


Yearning for YouTube

Walk into the library on any given afternoon and about half of the computers you see are on YouTube. Most students find it hard to imagine life without YouTube or other online video sources.

SMU Temerlin Advertising Institute students Anna Lee Doughtie, Kat Farmer and Lizzie Harris conducted research to find out what would happen if students deprived themselves of online video sources for two weeks.

One early discovery was that SMU students often use the brand name YouTube as a verb. Participants said they would sometimes encourage friends to “YouTube” a particular video clip. One participant said that she “YouTube[d] a lot to watch funny videos and listen to music.”

Seven SMU students who agreed to participate were self-described “heavy users” of online video, or “streamies” as they are sometimes referred to in the media, with half saying they watch a minimum of 30 minutes per average day. From Oct. 24 through Nov. 7, students agreed to avoid such sites as,, iTUNES video,, Yahoo video and official broadcast network Web sites.

One week into the study, more than half of the participants said they had “accidentally” been exposed to some form of online videos, typically YouTube. Some were exposed “second-hand” to videos that their friends were viewing, but another frequent source of online video viewing was in the classroom, where professors used streaming or downloaded video as part of class presentations and discussion.

It was virtually impossible for some participants to completely avoid online video content.

For those who have come to rely on online “how-to” videos rather than instructional books or manuals, two weeks without YouTube demonstrations proved challenging.

“I needed YouTube to help me break into Blockbuster boxes,” one student said. “I had to find instructions on how to adjust the magnets. After we rented a movie from Blockbuster, we couldn’t get the safety thing out because they forgot to take it out.

“I wanted to go on YouTube and watch someone do it, but I couldn’t. I finally Googled it and found written instructions and got frustrated and broke it with pliers,” the student said.

Students generally struggled with going “cold turkey” with online videos. Some felt disconnected from their favorite television shows because they would typically watch them online, whereas others simply increased the time spent watching the television set.

One of the participants reported a particularly difficult time because she doesn’t have a television in her dorm room. The inability to access television online while alone in her dorm room resulted in her turning to social media to pass the time.

“I have these awkward breaks in my classes…and since I didn’t have (online video) I would creep on people’s Facebook…or I would just sit there.”

Some participants said they used online videos as procrastination devices, to “de-stress” from school or work or to keep current with popular culture. When he couldn’t access online video, one participant said he found himself chewing gum to cope with his stress and nervous energy. Others said they sought more human contact by visiting other students.

In a picture collage created to describe the effects of online video deprivation, one participant selected a picture of a man straining to see through a tiny hole. “I felt sight-restricted, because I couldn’t see what was going on,” he said.

More to Discover