YouTube is a window into a world of wonder. There is so much great material to be found there, whether it’s for education, entertainment, or inspiration. But there’s also a lot of inappropriate stuff in amongst the cat videos and Kid President. Question is, how do we, as parents, help our kids safely navigate YouTube?
I opened the door to YouTube when my daughters were about five and seven years old. I bookmarked collections of videos and we always watched them together. The Muppets and the Sesame Street Channel were among our favourites. More often than not I’d search for vintage Bugs Bunny and other cartoons I enjoyed when I was a kid. (The Barber of Seville was on regular rotation for a long time around here. Remember that one?)
Most of the videos we watched clocked in under 10 minutes or so. It was all I needed to distract the girls while I was brushing the tangles out of their hair. YouTube made my life easier, and it was fun, fast, and easy to keep it at one or two items before we turned it off and got on with our day.
I’ve spoken to many parents whose children prefer to watch YouTube instead of regular cable. It used to surprise me but it doesn’t anymore. Just look at the numbers.
It wasn’t until my kids were old enough to start looking up some of their favourite singers and shows that I started to worry about what they were watching when I wasn’t in a direct line of view.
There are two aspects of YouTube that are worth talking to your kids about: the consuming/watching side of it, and the uploading/sharing side.
If your child is using YouTube to watch videos, consider adopting some “best practices” for your family so everyone stays safe and happy:
Creating videos can be a really fun and enriching activity, and it’s something I actively encourage my kids to do. It’s so easy nowadays, as many cameras and smart phones have movie-making apps built right in that are easy to use.
However, just like with Instagram, young people need to think about the impact and possible consequences of what they post online.
My kids don’t have their own YouTube account, so if they have something to upload it’s always done through mine, which has worked out wonderfully so far. I’m going to keep it this way for as long as I can. When my kids get to the point of wanting their own accounts, I’m going to suggest a couple of things:
It’s always good to teach your kids to ask themselves a few critical questions before posting videos online.
I’ve always believed that YouTube is a mirror of who we are as a society. There is so much beauty, hilarity, and cultural significance to be found there, but mixed in with that is also a lot of idiocy and ugliness. Teaching our kids how to navigate through it all is just as important as teaching them how to navigate through life itself. Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear how you approach this vast video landscape in your household!
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