Any parent nowadays will tell you that the easiest way to keep a child busy is by giving them a device to watch YouTube on. These days children are exposed to the internet at a very young age. YouTube even has a version specifically geared towards children’s content. The ramifications of children watching (and creating) YouTube videos are far and many.
Who Creates Childrens’ YouTube
Both adults and children are involved in the creation of YouTube made for children. With social media markets like SocialGreg, it is relatively easy for people to successfully start YouTube channels. There are unfortunately many parents that are forcing their children to help them create videos for social media accounts, as this can be a very lucrative business. However, not all content on YouTube Kids is made this way – some content is made by adults only. Of course, much of the content provided can be considered educational as well as entertaining. Although, there are channels with very little educational value, and others even posting disturbing content that is not suitable for children, or content that encourages bad behavior.
Why was YouTube Kids Created
In 2015, the video-sharing platform created a specific app (and then the web-based version in 2019) of YouTube, geared towards younger audiences. This was done in response to increased demand for content created for children. The goal was to curate and filter videos to make it safer for children to use YouTube, without accidentally stumbling upon information their parents/guardians would avoid exposing them to. In theory, it meant that the app would be safe for children to watch unsupervised.
Before the YouTube Kids app was developed (and for some time after), videos surfaced on the platform, tailed to be appealing to children but containing very disturbing and sexual content. Adults in these videos wore costumes of popular childrens’ cartoon characters such as Elsa (from the Disney movie Frozen) and Spider-man. However, little to no dialogue was shown in these videos, but the themes of these videos included (but were not limited to): sexual fetishes, violence, cannabilism, rape, and drugs. The channels used keywords in their captions to seemingly be appropriate content for children. Concerned parents resorted to banning YouTube altogether. YouTube has since taken down most of these channels, but some of these videos still occasionally show up on other websites.
Despite the aforementioned downfalls, much of the content on YouTube Kids is educational and entertaining in a safe way. There are millions of videos on the platform that teach numbers, letters, reading, math, good behavior, and other various educational topics. Many parents use the platform as a helpful tool to encourage learning. Others will tell you that the videos give them a short break from the constant needs of their children.
Although content can be considered educational, much of it is not of a high-quality. Many channels resort to using colors and movement to keep children engaged (especially toddlers), which can be addicting. At a very young age, children form habits that can be very hard to break when they are older. Many children now suffer from screen addiction, which can cause significant stress and even depression.
Final Words of Advice
There is no way to completely avoid your children finding YouTube unless you plan on monitoring them around the clock. Should you choose to allow them to watch videos on the platform, do not completely rely on the app to filter out inappropriate content. Do not rely on captions and descriptions to find out what the videos contain, but rather check the video for yourself. You should be the judge of what your children should or should not be exposed to.