Tech addiction is a serious problem and any parent in today’s age is aware of this. YouTube is the drug of choice for most children. Dr. David Greenfield, founder of The Center for Internet and Technology Addiction explains that children (and anyone spending a lot of time on the internet) are often just “Looking for a little bit of dopamine.“
If you have a child that is old enough to hold a mobile device, you most likely have a child that watches YouTube. Children are not watching television like we did growing up, they are watching their favorite YouTuber. I’m not going to go off and be an old ‘fart’ and say “when we were kids we played outside all the time and we never would have been stuck to the screen.” for two reasons, 1. It would be a partial lie. One of my favorite past times as a kid coming home from school was putting on the TV and watching HeMan or Transformers. 2. No matter how much any parent wants to admit it, times change and so does the entertainment for children – almost on a generational basis.
Whether you have a little girl or a little boy, nearly all the kids like the YouTube stars that do silly skits, funny songs or real-time video game commentary. Often times (unbeknownst to parents) the YouTube stars (especially the more amateur ones) use inappropriate language or discuss things that are outside the realm of what a child should be listening to (topics, discussions, etc.).
Now there are plenty of YouTube stars out there that are respectable and work hard to make sure that they stick to their audience. It’s very important that parents look at what YouTube shows their kids are watching and that they watch some of them on their own time (at least a few minutes). I also highly advise installing a parent monitoring software such as MobiCip that will let you see what videos your children are watching when you’re not around or that you might have missed them watching. It does cost a little bit of money but it’s a small price to pay to help keep an eye on your children’s technology.
One important note on parent monitoring apps such as MobiCip: Tell your children that you are monitoring them. My son is well aware that I can see what he views on the internet, I don’t hide that from him but I also don’t hover over him either. I respect his privacy and only if I feel he’s being sneaky or might be viewing something he should not be viewing, do I actually go look through the history.
Words of Wisdom
- MOST IMPORTANT: Talk to your child calmly. Ask them what they are watching and why they enjoy watching it. Diving straight in and stopping them from watching any YouTube is not the answer (no matter how much you might like to do that). That will just force them to go watch something on a friends device (when you’re not around) giving you no knowledge of what they are watching.
- Google your child’s favorite YouTube stars. You are bound to find an overview of what the YouTuber talks about, what kind of language they use and what their target audience is.
- There are several good video blocker extensions in Chrome and Internet Explorer that can be added to block specific YouTube channels. If you if you see something your child shouldn’t be watching, block it with one of these utilities.