I love YouTube! I have learned to knit, to grow vegetables and to speak in an Irish accent – all thanks to random strangers on YouTube. Ok, my knitting is pretty poor and Im not going to win an Oscar with the accent either. The point is, if you want to understand something, hear an opinion or learn something, you can’t go past the visual medium of YouTube. YouTube is for learning.
And, if your child, or their friends, want to learn something or fix something you can bet most of them will have checked out a video on YouTube. There are other video sites (like Vimeo) but none with the scope and loyalty of Google’s YouTube. There are 24 hours (at least) of video uploaded to YouTube each and every hour… that’s a lot of dancing cats!
So it’s a great resource. And in my experience, there are many, many more great and useful videos than there are offensive videos. As you’ll see below, they videos aren’t even usually the problem – it’s the comments people write under each video.
But how do we make sure our kids focus on the good – and avoid the bad?
There are a couple of ways.
But first I have to add in a caveat…any online tool opens up kids to potentially rude or offensive content. The nature of the web is that it’s open and user-generated (a lot of it at least, it’s called Web 2.0…that’s for another post!). So open = anyone can contribute. Including the idiots of the world who post the nasty stuff. But we can do the best we can to keep our kids safe.
I’m of course not advocating that young primary school kids should have free and easy access to the web, YouTube included. But I am sure that by about Grade 4 they are interested in it and want to access it for learning. I know they want to watch the newest One Direction music clip too – it’s not all learning of course.
So here are 4 ways to be better informed and to structure their YouTube use.
1. Talk to your kids about the comments below the videos. IF YOU DO NOTHING ELSE TALK ABOUT THE COMMENTS. This is where people seem to forget their manners and their brain filters. They write anything, sometimes anonymously, and it can be rude or self-serving (I.e. This video is crap, check out mine at www.jiodjfdioajfido.com – usually totally unrelated).
Your kids should know to NOT read the comments. They should know comments don’t often add to the video anyway and that the video is what they need to focus on.
2.Talk to them about keyword searching. The more specific the better. When a prep kids wants to find a picture of a cat. You really, really don’t want them trying to type in the word ‘pussy’. I think we can all agree that would be a bad idea with an unpleasant result. So what do we do?
Well, we get kids to think more about what they are actually searching for. So instead of pussy cat, we type in “brown cat on a table”. It’s not foolproof but it will limit the dodgy stuff. Particularly on YouTube where videos have longer titles and more keywords.
3.Talk to them about what they should do if they see something inappropriate. Our kids know when something is dodgy, they really do. But sometimes they don’t know what to do about it when it happens. Here’s a suggestion.
- They turn off the screen, lock the iPad or close the laptop.
- They come tell you or an adult (teacher, grandparent, babysitter…)
- They DON’T show their friends, brother/sister or next-door neighbor.
- You report the video (there’s a button – see below) and congratulate your child on their responsible behaviour.
4.Supervise kids online. I say this all the time. The ONLY effective way to stop kids seeing or experiencing negative web content is to know what they are doing and have them using their devices in a public place. Young adults/children online and alone in another room is only going to lead to problems.
Let them know you are in their world people! And that you can understand that they didn’t mean to see those rude things on that site, it just came up in the comments.
Off you go now – YouTube warriors of the world! Have some fun your self.
As a bonus – and this is for those with little kids – there’s a ton of great pre-school/Prep kid appropriate videos online. They can be used for kids to watch. Use this great ‘clean-up’ website. Instructions below.
Watching YouTube videos this way means no comments appear and less links are there to be clicked on.
Go on, watch Peppa Pig online while you get the dishes done ;0) Let me know how you go!!