My Topics

27 February 2020

What adolescents can learn about belonging to their city from their local urban influencers

With so many social media influencers available, adolescents have many role models to choose from, some even from their own city. Local urban influencers can help adolescents in big multicultural cities feel connected to their city and can provide examples of what it means to be a citizen of that city. This helps adolescents in developing a sense of who they are and where they belong, which is very important in this stage of their lives. A study in Frontiers in Psychology investigates how local influencers from Rotterdam, one of the most diverse cities of the Netherlands, portray their city and how they are connected to each other.

Take aways

  • Urban influencers provide their local audience with reflections of the city that may help strengthen a sense of belonging to the city.
  • Viewers can recognize locations in the city, symbols affiliated with the city, or other local celebrities that appear in the influencers’ videos or on their channel pages.
  • This shows the position of the influencer as a fellow citizen, and provides adolescents with examples for their own understanding of what it means to live in the city.
  • Urban influencers make videos and are part of networks that very well reflect the diversity of big cities.

Study information

  • Who?

    18 local YouTube influencer channels and their networks, which were identified in previous questionnaire research among 324 participants (mean age: 10.65, age range: 9-16, 49% female).

  • Where?

    The Netherlands

  • How?

    First, the researchers looked at which of the local influencers’ YouTube channels were connected to each other through subscriptions or featured channels. Subscriptions and featured channels can be found on YouTube channel pages, are manually entered by the owner of the channel, and aim to recommend other channels to their followers.

    Then, the researchers also looked at what channels YouTube’s algorithm recommended when viewing the local influencers’ channel pages. After combining all these recommended channels, and analyzing which YouTube channel was recommended by which, the researchers looked for groups within this network that were strongly connected to each other.

    Finally, the researchers investigated the videos created by six of the local influencers. They looked for the different ways in which the city and its citizens were portrayed in the videos through image and sound.

Facts and findings

  • Both the city and its citizens were often present in the background of the influencers’ videos and were sometimes mentioned in passing.
  • The influencers did not often explicitly say that they were from Rotterdam, but for most this was well visible in their vlogs.
  • Not only did the influencers themselves reflect the diversity of the city, so did the presence of other people and cultural elements and themes. 
  • Almost all of the local influencers were connected to each other—either by appearing in each other’s’ videos or by being featured on each other’s’ channel pages or the channel pages of their network.