What is YouTube?

Last updated: October 13, 2016 - 7:10pm EDT

Imagine you come home from work or doing errands around town one day, and you sit down in your favourite chair and turn on your television.  Up and down the channels you go, and you can't find anything that you want to watch!  Why?

  • Do the shows on right now just not interest you?

  • Do you have to wait to watch a show you like, since it's scheduled at a later time?

  • Are the channels that have the shows you want to watch not part of your subscription package?

If you're frustrated by any of these things, consider giving YouTube a try. 

So what exactly is YouTube?

YouTube is a video-streaming website; it lets you pick a video that you want to watch, and then it plays the video back to you while it loads from the Internet.  YouTube is also a social network, in that people can share videos with others, comment on what they see, and rate videos and the comments of others.

Created in 2005 by former PayPal employees Steven Chen, Chad Hurley, and Jawed Karim, YouTube is a website where people can post all different kinds of videos.  Sports highlights, breaking news stories, animations, comedy sketches and routines, music videos, video diaries, do-it-yourself tutorials... there's something for everyone on YouTube.

How YouTube works: the 4 basic functions of YouTube

1. Create a YouTube channel, your own personal space on the YouTube network.

"Channels" are basically the user accounts of YouTube.  Some are for private individuals, while others are for organizations and corporations and their various brands.  Some people or groups have multiple channels in order to showcase different types of videos.

A channel can be personalized with contact information, a cover picture, and a profile icon.  It also contains information about a person's actions on YouTube, including any videos that they've uploaded, any playlists that they've made, and any comments made about their videos.

A YouTube channel, and how to subscribe to it

Users on YouTube need channels before they can move on to the second pillar of YouTube: posting videos.

2. Upload videos to YouTube for the rest of the world to see.

This is what YouTube is all about: no videos, no YouTube.  Once a user has a channel on YouTube, they can begin uploading videos to the website.  As long as said videos fall within YouTube's community guides, just about any kind of video can be posted.  Slideshows, news and television show clips, web logs, do-it-yourself tutorials, funny home movies... and all of them contribute to YouTube being one of the largest video-streaming websites on the planet!

Tools and options for uploading YouTube videos

3. Enjoy watching videos on YouTube, and share them with friends on other social networks.

A video isn't much without an audience.  Fortunately, YouTube has a pretty broad audience, since you don't actually have to have an account on the website just to watch videos.  There are plenty of fun customization options for watching videos on YouTube, such as changing the picture quality (if you have a faster or slower computer), adding subtitles or captions, or viewing the video on your entire screen.  Some videos can even be watched with 3D glasses, or with the ability to move the camera around! 

What the YouTube video player looks like

You can also share a link to a YouTube video over social media channels (such as Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, Pinterest, and more), or "embed" a video so that it shows up right in the middle of your personal website!

4.  Have your say by rating a YouTube video or leaving a comment on it.

YouTube lets all of its users be each other's movie critics.  Users can leave comments on other people's videos, or respond to other people's comments.  Users can also "like" or "dislike" videos and comments.  Ratings for videos display the total number of "likes" and "dislikes"; ratings for comments are simply the difference between the number of "likes" and "dislikes" (e.g. 40 "likes" and 15 "dislikes" results in a comment rating of 25).

How to write and post a comment on YouTube

So why should I use YouTube?

YouTube is a way to watch what you want, when you want for free over the Internet.  Plus, you get to be a TV or movie critic by rating or commenting on what you watch.  You can even upload your own videos for other people to watch.  Who knows?  You might become a YouTube star and start earning money from your channel!  Our YouTube course will show you everything you need to know to get started.

Oh, and did you know that Techboomers is on YouTube, along with many of our video tutorials for the websites that we offer lessons on?  Check them all out at www.youtube.com/c/techboomers!

In the meantime, let's have a look at YouTube's pros and cons.


Mark_complete_sm Back_to_course Go to YouTube.com

More YouTube Tutorials

See all 20 YouTube tutorials

Did you learn what you wanted to?

Was something in this tutorial missing, confusing, or out of date? Or did it give you all the information you needed, and you just want to say "thanks"? We'd love to hear what you thought!