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YES: Are viral Youtube challenges beneficial?


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Written by Julia Cheunkarndee

I’m sure we’ve all seen them: viral YouTube videos racking up views and usually consisting of teenagers completing one dangerous stunt or another. From setting oneself on fire to car surfing on the highway, people have gone all out in order to keep up with the latest trends. While a few YouTube challenges have earned themselves a bad reputation, and advised some serious injuries (as lighting yourself on fire tends to do), there are challenges that have actu- ally proven to be beneficial.

YouTube is wide-reaching; it serves an audience of over 1.8 billion users a month. With a viewership this large, information and the latest trends from the website can spread quickly throughout the globe. In some cases, this trend may be swal- lowing a Tide Pod as part of an online dare. In other situations, however, YouTube’s gigantic audience can give voice and support to good causes.

The most famous beneficial You- Tube challenge is most likely the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, which first began in 2014. The challenge itself consisted of dumping a bucket of ice water over someone’s head in order to promote awareness of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a motor neuron disease. Participants could then donate to research on the disease, and nominate other people to do the same.

Through the usage of social media platforms like YouTube, the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was a huge success. The ALS Association was able to stretch its message worldwide and to people from all walks of life. Celeb- rities took up the challenge as well. Bill Gates raised the bar by inventing his own ice-water dumping contrap- tion. Videos flooded onto YouTube and other social media platforms. Ultimately, over 115 million dollars were raised for the charity, 67 per- cent of which went into research; in 2016, two years after the challenge, research led to the discovery of a new gene linked with the disease.

The scale of the challenge’s suc- cess can be clearly seen through a simple comparison of the ALS organization’s donations in 2013 and 2014. In 2013, total donations for the entire year summed up to 2.5 million dollars. A single month in 2014, however, raked in over 100 million dollars worth of donations. The difference was through outreach and the ubiquitousness of the chal- lenge through social media.

While public perceival and por- trayal of YouTube challenges may be negative, there are still some moments where the wide-reaching aspect of social media brings people together for acts of good. It can be as simple as challenging others to dump ice water over their heads.

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YES: Are viral Youtube challenges beneficial?