Cyber Mum – A Parent’s Guide to YouTube

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When I was in school, I used to come home each day and spend my afternoons either riding my bike around the local neighbourhood with friends or hanging out watching Skippy, The Brady Bunch or Bewitched on that old-fashioned thing called the television or box!

But our kids of today are different. Instead of being warned about getting square eyes from watching the box, they are glued to YouTube. It’s mostly innocent, but there’s also a dark side to YouTube you may be unaware of. As with the rest of the internet, you can find porn, hate speech, profanity and stolen content on a massive scale. But the biggest difference is that YouTube allows kids to create and share videos, as well as consume them.

In theory, you must be at least 13 years old before you can upload videos. That’s the minimum age for creating a Google account, thanks to the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. The reality, though, is quite different.

There are vast numbers of underage YouTubers uploading content. If you don’t believe me, then jump on YouTube yourself and search same simple concepts like “Am I pretty?” then count the number of videos posted by little girls.

At the very least, if your kids upload videos without your knowledge, they might reveal personal information to thousands of total strangers. Plus, they will certainly expose themselves to bullies and worse in that cesspool of human depravity known as YouTube comments.

If you’re blindly letting your kids on YouTube without thinking twice, I strongly recommend that it’s time to start thinking twice, and the best place to start is the check their viewing history and get a gauge on what they are watching and how they are using YouTube. To do this, simply:

From you home computer

  • Go to the YouTube website
  • Click the navigation menu bottom in the top left corner
  • Click History

From an IOS App

  • Click on the Library button in the bottom left corner
  • Click on History

From an Android App

  • Click on the Library button in the bottom left corner
  • Click on History

If you find that your child is accessing YouTube content that is not appropriate or you simply feel it’s time to take a little more control of their YouTube viewing, you can take some simple steps to make it a safer online environment.

Turn on safety mode

Be aware that YouTube is technically only for teens 13 and up, and what the site considers age-appropriate may not match your values. But YouTube offers a filter called Safety Mode, that limits the suspect content. Simply scroll down to the bottom of any YouTube page. See where it says “Safety”? Click it on. (It will then remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.)

Take YouTube’s advice

Most kids find out about new videos either from their friends or by clicking on the related videos (which may or may not be appropriate). But YouTube itself offers several ways to find quality content. Visit YouTube Nation for curated content in a variety of categories. Read about YouTube news on the company blog, and find out what’s trending all over the country on the Map and the Dashboard.

Watch later

YouTube gives you the ability to save videos to watch at a later time, which improves the odds that your kids will be exposed to stuff you’ve preapproved. You can create playlists, too, virtually designing a customised programming schedule of content for each of your kids or for different subjects they’re interested in.

If all else fails and you feel you simply don’t have the time to be researching and monitoring your kids’ online activities, then I strongly recommend investing in an online filtering system for your home computer and kids’ portable devices. This simply removes all the worry and time needed to keep up to date, when your kids are generally one step ahead anyway.

Cyber Mum

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