YouTube has made parenting a fair bit easier. Not all that long ago, parents (myself included) had to work a hell of a lot harder to keep our kids entertained when we were trying to get any form of work done. Often times it means putting on a movie or a show up on your TV, but those shows would end and you would be forced to stop what you are doing to find something else that the kids wanted to watch.
Now that kids have far easier access to tablets and computers, and they all already seem to have a reasonable grasp at how to use them, kids have started to fall in love with YouTube, and parents aren't complaining. Kids can now access videos for themselves, without having to ask their parents to come over and help them. And while there is a ton of kid friendly content on YouTube, it also allows them to accidentally start watching something that they absolutely shouldn't be.
This a screen grab of the top four videos you get when you search "kids videos," and they all look (and are) perfectly harmless.
But once kids start watching videos, other suggestions of what they can watch start popping up in the sidebar, and some of them can be kind of insane.
Take this video spoofing an episode of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse that I found as a recommendation after searching through the sidebar after watching a couple videos that were "traditional" Mickey shows.
To a kid this video is about Mickey Mouse, and they would have no way to distinguish that fact right off the hop. But once they watch it, they will likely be confused, or scared, or both. If your kid does see something on YouTube that they shouldn't have, you need to talk to them about it.
Luckily YouTube has developed their own kid friendly channel, YouTube Kids. It is a much better option than traditional YouTube, but it still has a few issues to deal with. University of Alberta researcher David Brake did a study on the use of YouTube by children, and he had a few thoughts.
“Kids who used to have the freedom of going to YouTube and typing in the things that interest them will quickly find that frustrating if they’re older than three or four,” said Brake. “They’ll want to make their own explorations.”
Check out this video about the strange dark things that are created by people who really don't care what kids are able to find on the channel. It actually sums it up pretty well.
Will you start paying attention to what your kids are watching on YouTube?