Statistically speaking, last year’s average screen time for a teenager globally was 7 hours and 22 minutes. This is undoubtedly a massive, and alarming number. Some of the largest contributors to this hour rate are without question social media networks. 

We live in a day and age where technology has become an irreplaceable part of our lives. It contributes not only to our daily share of entertainment, but also to work, and countless other trivial tasks. 

So, what exactly makes these platforms so attractive? What contributes to their incredible success and growth? 

The Origins of Social Media

The origins of social media can be traced back to the early days of the Internet. This is when online communities and forums emerged as platforms for people to connect and exchange ideas. However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s and early 2000s that social networking sites as we know them today began to take shape.

Sites like SixDegrees.com, launched in 1997, allowed users to create personal profiles and connect with friends and acquaintances. This concept paved the way for the rise of platforms like Friendster, MySpace, and eventually, the juggernaut that is Facebook. These early social networks focused on enabling users to create digital representations of their real-world social connections. They also allowed user to share updates, photos, and personal information with their networks.

All of it aided the real-life experience and made communication a lot more convenient, which somewhat contrasts with some of the largest social media networks available today. 

Streaming and Communication

Streaming was mainly dominated by a single website, Twitch. This is before it eventually expanded to YouTube and other newer networks such as Kick or Rumble. This shift started for many reasons, one being the limits placed on the creators by the Twitch TOS. 

For example, some creators like Trainwrecks and XQC, pioneers of real money online casino streamers, changed their platform to Kick because of its more laidback TOS. These creators stream themselves playing casino games for large sums of money, trying their luck, and advancing their strategy at slots, blackjack, baccarat, and other games while winning large sums of money in real-time, which is definitely a sight to see if you’re a casino fan. 

The former of the two, Trainwrecks, partially owns the Kick platform, establishing it specifically to create a looser platform. Currently, one of the most prominent sections on it is the above-mentioned online casinos, with an unbelievable fan base and various big streamers broadcasting their gameplay in different games, whether that is slots, poker, or anything else. Trainwrecks wants Kick to be known for more than that subsection, but he also says it should not be a restriction on its broadcasting. 

As for communication networks, it has been consistent for many years now. Twitter, or officially X, seems to be past the controversies after Elon Musk’s purchase and is doing well. As for Facebook, while its popularity may be decreasing in certain countries, it is very far from being ‘dead’.

The Progression of Social Media

While the original purpose of social media was to enable communication and connections, it has since evolved into a formidable pillar of the entertainment industry. Social media platforms have become powerful distribution channels for content creators and entertainment companies alike, revolutionizing the way we consume and engage with media. 

Undoubtedly the biggest contributor to this specific phenomenon is YouTube. It was launched in the year 2005, under the premise of sharing online videos. YouTube has left a permanent mark on the world of not just social media, but digital entertainment as a whole.

It has come a long way since its inception. This is an evolution most clearly highlighted by the quality of the content made by the creators of the platform. Speaking of which, one of the first, and easily most influential channels that found success at the early stages of YouTube, is the channel Smosh. 

Created by Anthony Padilla and Ian Hecox, the channel set a sort of trend in the mid-2000s. The trend was essentially about comedy skits and light-hearted videos. This trend was utilized by other big channels at the time. This includes NigaHiga, and a relatively unknown channel nowadays, Fred which was the first one to hit 1 million subscribers in 2009. 

From there, we enter what some describe as the golden era of YouTube. This is where creators like PewDiePie, Markiplier, Jackepticeye, and many more would begin uploading gaming videos and playthroughs offering commentary and humor on top, and finding great success and popularity. Nowadays though, the algorithm has changed, and evolved to the point of utilizing AI tech, providing the most attractive home pages and recommendations.

While there are plenty of highly successful ‘low-budget’ content creators doing better than ever nowadays, offering value and entertainment mainly through their personality and humor, say Moist Critical for example, it is undeniable that the bar for making it a successful creator has been raised drastically. This is demonstrated by many channels, but why not look at the biggest one out there today? 

The Modern Social Media Landscape

Mr.Beast started making videos in 2012, initially finding fame by doing some ridiculous challenges. This includes challenges such as reading the dictionary in one go or counting to 100 thousand in one sitting. Eventually though, as the channel grew larger, so did the creativity and the ideas implemented. And naturally, the budget used for videos. 

Nowadays, Mr.Beast is a massive content machine, often pouring hundreds of thousands of dollars into each new project/video. He is somehow making it all back and continuing the growth. To put things into perspective, some of the projects include million-dollar giveaways through completing challenges, or funding the surgeries of thousands of people experiencing hearing or eyesight problems.

Of course, YouTube is not the only digital content-sharing platform. The rise of TikTok has influenced essentially every other social media network to start implementing shorts-formed content. Even the absolute antithesis of shorts formed creators, which are streamers, often use clips to try and draw people to their streams. 


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