19 Jun, 2013
Kids and YouTube
My latest blog post at MediaSmarts.ca is about YouTube. I’d love it if you shared your thoughts about how you’re handling YouTube at your house. Do you monitor what your kids are watching? Do you have Safety Controls enabled on your computer? Do you let them upload videos? Why or why not?
It’s hard to believe that YouTube hasn’t actually been around for very long. It all came about in 2005 when three former PayPal employees bought the domain name and and etched out the beginnings of a video-sharing website that gave users the ability to upload, share, and view videos.
The first YouTube video was “Me at the Zoo” and it was uploaded by one of the website’s co-founders. Watching that video makes me wonder if they realized what a huge impact YouTube was going to have on the world; how much of an effect it was going to have on (a) the television business and (b) our own viewing habits.
A couple years ago I wrote a post called Kid-friendly YouTube videos: help me make a list. Thanks to reader comments it actually became a pretty good list, one that I often referred to when I was looking for something new to watch with the girls.
It was a small habit that we got into, this YouTube thing. I’d dial up a video instead of turning on the TV while brushing my daughter’s hair. It was the perfect length of time for the task and offered some welcome distraction. Plus I got to watch some vintage Bugs Bunny too.
When I think about it I realize that TV offers families some degree of protection, doesn’t it? There’s really no way that a kid, watching a cartoons on Saturday morning, can accidentally see up something that wasn’t intended for his or her innocent eyeballs. There’s no profanity and no offensive content… although I guess that depends on how well your kid knows how to use a remote and your particular cable package. Perhaps this is why it’s so easy to get complacent about sitting kids down in front of an iPad with the YouTube home page open in front of them. And with the rise of mobile devices, there’s a rise in consumption.
Perhaps parents don’t need to be reminded that YouTube is the wild wild west, and not a garden that is carefully tended. Or do they?
Like any media I think it’s up to the parents to know what’s out there, not be complacent, and most importantly, strike a healthy balance in their families. How much is too much TV/YouTube/Xbox? I’m not anti-video game or anti-TV. Far from it. I think there’s so much great content out there that it’d be a shame to miss it. And I’m not just talking about educational stuff. Even the dog and talking beaver videos deserve a bit of our attention, don’t you think?
As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts!
p.s if you’re interested in these kinds of issues, you can read my past blog posts at MediaSmarts right here.