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YouTube – What parents need to know

by guest blogger Caroline O’Neill

Since the creation of YouTube in 2005, it has become one of the world’s leading video sharing social media sites providing access to an array of video genres for all age groups and in doing so has provided a platform for rising stars to express their creativity giving way to the era of the YouTuber.

What is a YouTuber i hear you ask..

A YouTuber is a YouTube personality or celebrity who has gained notoriety or popularity through the videos they share via their YouTube channel. A YouTuber can have anything from a 100 to millions of followers and can gain a substantial amount of money via online ads and corporate sponsorship. As of 2018, the most popular YouTuber is PewDiePie (aka. Felix Arvid Uif Kjellbag) who has approx. 64 million subscribers and a net worth of $20 million dollars!

YouTube is an important staple in millennial life, providing a vital source for information and entertainment. YouTubers are the new celebrities of today’s society and thus hold an extreme amount of influential power. As the saying goes with great power comes great responsibility…this cannot always be said in the YouTuber world. Most YouTubers are young ranging from early teens to mid twenties. In the race to become the latest and greatest, they can go to extreme lengths to be “on trend” and get their videos noticed without considering their audience or considering the consequences of their actions.

 

Presenting PewDiePie..

PewDiePie is a Swedish YouTube personality, video game commentator and video blogger. His videos are energetic, goofy, obnoxious and can contain bad language. His content is very influential and appeals to young gameplayers. PewDiePie’s video blogs (vlogs) have met with controversy. In 2017, PieDiePie received criticism over anti-semitism content within several of his vlogs; as a result, Maker Studios ended their partnership with him and dropped him from the network. PewDiePie still remains the most subscribed YouTuber and holds the distinction of having the most viewed YouTube Channel of all time.

As trends change, so do YouTube Channels, YouTubers need to stay present and will sometimes do outlandish things in order to garner media attention. Logan Paul, another well-known YouTuber received negative media coverage in Jan 2018, due to him uploading a video of the body of a man who had just committed suicide in Japan.

CyberSafeIreland comes across many primary school children who have their own channel (despite a minimum age of 13) and have appeared in either their own videos or friends videos. As YouTube is a very public platform, there is potential for misuse of these videos, nasty comments or oversharing of personal information.

 

It’s not all unsuitable content…

We should not paint all YouTubers with the same brush, there are many YouTubers whose content is child friendly and educational. A lot of popular YouTubers aim to teach children about chemistry and physics through their DIY videos. Guava Juice is an example of an entertaining YouTuber who conducts fun experiments such as making edible slime or homemade ice cream with entertaining videos that stimulate children’s curiosity.

Another popular YouTuber is Stampylonghead (AKA Joseph Garrett). Stampylonghead has acquired over 9m subscribers on YouTube focusing on MineCraft ‘Lets Play’ videos in the guise of Stampy Cat (a yellow and white minecraft cat). It is reported that once Garrett realised that his user base was mostly young children, he ensured all his content was child friendly. His material provides tutorials on how to navigate the world of minecraft and helps build ideas and promote creativity.

 

Tips for Parents

YouTube holds a vast majority of entertaining and educational videos that can provide both entertainment and educational opportunities for children however it also contains lots of inappropriate adult content. Here are some tips to help ensure that your child uses YouTube in a positive and age-appropriate way:

  1. Use YouTube Kids – The YouTube kids app can be downloaded onto Android and IOS devices. All content is tailored to kids and should contain no appropriate content, however inappropriate content does sometimes slip through the net. It’s a good idea to ensure that the ‘Search’ option is switched off.
  2. Restrict Access for older children – Access can be restricted by selecting ‘Restricted mode’, in the YouTube settings. This will prevent kids from viewing content that has been flagged as inappropriate. Ensure that the ‘Lock Restricted Mode’ setting is selected to prevent this setting from being removed. Check out our guide to Parental Controls to find links to instructions on how to do this.
  3. Keep your eyes and ears open – Remember that the restrictions are not foolproof. It’s important to keep an eye on what children are doing and seeing online at all times.  If your child starts telling you about a particular YouTube channel or YouTuber that they are following, check them out and make sure the content is appropriate. CommonsenseMedia is a great site for checking out YouTubers and whether their content is appropriate.
  4. Agree rules for creating YouTube videos – a great rule if you are allowing children to make videos, is that they don’t show their faces in the videos and that they always allow you to check the videos before they go online.

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