YouTube has been around since 2005 and has made it possible for many creative people both young and old to gain the fame and fortune previously only attainable by Hollywood Stars. It has disrupted the “old model” of video content is only available on TV and movies produced by Hollywood. As a matter of fact, television shows like America’s Funniest Home Videos now almost exclusively show videos that are already available on YouTube. YouTube has over 1.3 Billion Users. That is a staggering statistic, but the alarming part is that 14-20% of users are under the age of 18.
Smosh, Good Mythical Morning, PewDiePie, Jake Paul, Logan Paul — these names may not mean much to you, but chances are your kids know them on a first-name basis. A recent survey by Variety Magazine ranked these as the top influencers among children and teens well over the traditional celebrities of Hollywood today. These YouTubers do not always have child-friendly content, yet their content is marketed to children as young as eight years old. Some content is vulgar. For example, PewDiePie was recently let go from his Disney contract for his pro-Nazi speech.
It is no surprise that children are easily influenced, especially by those older than them. Teenagers and young adults may not even realize it, but they can hold great influence over a young child’s heart and mind. I can’t help but think about Kids Club Principle 7, “Our Good Habits Help Those Who Follow Us.” Everyone has followers and YouTube is specifically built on the idea of being an influencer and producing followers. I can’t help but also think about the Kids Club Principle 6, “Those Who Love God Will Help Us Serve God.” Many of these YouTubers are braggadocios by nature which is causing a generation of children to follow in vain, empty boasting.
The popular, most subscribed to channels are hosted by young adults who may not fully understand the influence that they have towards 8-12-year-olds. Some YouTubers do realize this and have crafted their channels with this in mind.
However, YouTube is a tool that is not all bad. As a matter of fact, it can be very educational and helpful. But as a parent, just as you should be careful about what your children watch on television, you should be careful about what channels and videos your children are subscribing to on YouTube.
YouTube is mostly regulated by the community and community guidelines. The company heavily relies on its customers to flag inappropriate videos. There are hundreds of thousands of videos out there that target children with videos based on popular video games and animated characters but are actually very inappropriate for children. Link: https://theoutline.com/post/1239/youtube-has-a-fake-peppa-pig-problem
On the flip side, Minecraft is a very popular subject on YouTube and Mr. Stampy Cat (a British cartoon cat that narrates over mainly “Let’s Play” videos about Minecraft) realized that his audience was mainly children and purposefully became completely kid-friendly in every video after episode 19 of his channel. (Here is a Complete List of Child-Friendly Minecraft YouTubers https://www.beastnode.com/blog/2016/05/06/20-kid-friendly-youtubers-with-the-best-minecraft-videos/).
My recommendation for parents is that you consider YouTube like any other media source. Who and what do you want to be influencing your child? Consider the channels they are subscribing to or watching. Make sure they are people that you want influencing your child. Many channels come with an overview video. Research the creators. Also, check your child’s YouTube viewing history. Remember some videos can be deceptive with their titles, descriptions, and even the thumbnail. Consider using the YouTube app for kids. This app is a filtered version of YouTube and is an excellent choice for safe browsing. ( https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/youtube-kids/id936971630?mt=8)