Why You Tube matters. Why it is so important, why we should all be using it, and why blocking it blocks our kids' education

Marc Prensky (Author and speaker based in New York, New York, USA)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Publication date: 18 May 2010



The purpose of this paper is to highlight current changes in the way people communicate, and the role of You Tube in leading these changes


The approach takes the form of the author's observations and reflections.


With close to 100 million examples online, and growing exponentially, You Tube, and short video in general, are dramatically affecting the way in which today's Americans – especially young people – communicate and learn. In only five years, short video has moved from a medium for isolated, perhaps geeky young people to express themselves, to a two‐way medium used by mainstream people all over the world – including many experts and intellectuals – to share information and ideas. Today so much information is shared through video that, for perhaps 80 percent of Americans, reading and writing are rarely used skills, and becoming even more so.

Practical implications

While it is admitted that there remains a (relatively small) group for whom reading and writing will continue to be important, the question is “Should we continue to struggle to teach reading and writing to the great percentage of students, or should we focus on teaching clear communication of ideas through media that are easier to use?”


The paper provides a new perspective on the meaning of communication and the role of textual literacy in life and education in the near future.



Prensky, M. (2010), "Why You Tube matters. Why it is so important, why we should all be using it, and why blocking it blocks our kids' education", On the Horizon, Vol. 18 No. 2, pp. 124-131. https://doi.org/10.1108/10748121011050469

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