Why YouTube Isn’t for Kids and What You Should Do
Most kids love YouTube. It’s been likened to a kid’s TV channel, full of fresh content, 24/7. YouTube and YouTube Kids channel is a veritable clearinghouse of entertainment and information.
Teachers appreciate the diverse channels they can access, like Edutopia and Common Sense Education. Not everything in YouTube presents focused content that is appropriate for children and useful to educators. As Forrest Gump might say, “It’s like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”
You may click on a YouTube video that seems innocuous, but a Florida pediatrician discovered videos in YouTube Kids that promoted female abuse, characters with suicidal ideations, and school shootings. Even some of the animations on YouTube Kids promote suggestive behavior and offer how-to videos regarding sex, drugs, and violence.
Most people don’t want their children at home or students at school to have unlimited access to the channel. It’s too difficult to monitor what lies in wait for young minds on the family computer, a tablet, or a smartphone.
Control access to YouTube and YouTube Kids
Teachers (and the school technology department) can use YouTube’s restrictive controls to limit access. Parents should do the same. These filters block most of the inappropriate content, and YouTube reminds users frequently that they’re available for free. Parental control software like Qustodio and Net Nanny also do an excellent job of limiting access to sites children shouldn’t visit.
Be prepared, however. No matter how tightly you batten down the hatches, videos about questionable subjects will always sneak through your firewall. At that point, it’s time to have a talk. If you’re a teacher, tell your students that that video wasn’t suitable for the class. Let your campus administrator know right away. He or she will be able to recommend the next steps and help with parent concerns if there are any.
If you’re a parent, monitor YouTube and YouTube Kids access by making the screen visible to an adult. Talk to your child about what they saw. Explain why it wasn’t appropriate and suggest alternatives. Let your child ask questions, either at the time of the incident or afterward, once they’ve had a chance to internalize their thoughts.
But what if I still want to use YouTube?
It’s possible if you’re willing to prepare in advance. YouTube has made it outrageously easy to search for a quick video to illustrate the point you’re trying to make in class. Parents can create playlists for their children, too. Accessibility, however, has come with risk. You never know what recommended videos will be waiting in the playlist, and YouTube automatically plays them for you.
Mitigate the risk by creating assignments and inserting the YouTube channels of your preference, including your personal YouTube channel.
You can integrate YouTube with Google Classroom. The powerful combination of the two tech giants allows you to download and curate the content you want without accidentally accessing the kind of content that will land you in serious trouble.
Technology will always have a dark side. How you protect your children from the content they shouldn’t access is up to you.