a peek inside the fishbowl

19 Jun, 2013

Kids and YouTube

Posted by andrea tomkins in: Publishing/writing/career stuff|sanity saving parent tips|Yaktivism

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.

1 Response to "Kids and YouTube"

1 | valerie

June 19th, 2013 at 11:38 am


I’m afraid I’ve been kind of lax. The kids mostly look at videos I’ve sent them, look up songs that they’ve learned in music class at school, or watch Lego Ninjago videos. But I’m sure they’ll start exploring more soon and although we have controls on their pc accounts, we don’t on the iPad. They also can wander out of the kitchen with the iPad, unlike the pc.

So thanks for the link to the “how to turn on Safety” and I think we’ll need to sit down with them and have a talk very soon. We don’t have an account, so there’s no current worry about posting.

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My name is Andrea and I live in the Westboro area of Ottawa with my husband Mark and our two daughters Emma (16) and Sarah (14). I am the managing editor of our community newspaper, the Kitchissippi Times, and a regular contributor to MediaSmarts.ca. I am a longtime Ottawa blogger, and I've occupied this little corner of the WWW since 1999... which makes me either a total dinosaur or a veteran, I'm not sure which! The Fishbowl is my whiteboard, water cooler, and journal, all rolled into one. I'm passionate about healthy living, arts and culture, family travel, great gear, good food, and sharing the best of Ottawa for families. I also love vegetables, photography, gadgets, and great design.

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