Every mom can relate to how easily we can distract our kids with some videos on Youtube. It is a great way to keep them busy, and also a wonderful source of information and entertainment. Devices with content from sites such as Youtube have taken over from the traditional television time, and more hours are spent on Youtube in the United States than watching actual television.
It is no wonder then that Youtube is a rabbit hole to every type of content out there. While they have strict policies on what is allowed to be uploaded to the site, the numbers can sometimes be overwhelming and questionable videos do slip through the cracks. With this content so readily available, you need to make sure that your kids are not exposed to anything inappropriate. It is really easy to land up on these videos through suggested content or typing in the wrong word. Instead of banning your children from these sites, speak to them about what to avoid and how to know what to stay away from.
Unfortunately the conversation we need to have with our children about Youtube isn’t all rainbows and unicorns. We need to let them know that there is bad out there, and there are some people who aren’t as good as we would like to believe. At some point, they will find out that the world isn’t so innocent, and rather they learn it from you than having to stumble across the wrong content on their own. Be approachable and have frequent talks about what they are watching.
Don’t rely on parental control – There are some great parental control apps that you can install on a device that limit the content to suit the age appropriate needs of your child. This stops them from stumbling upon videos that are not suitable for them. While these are great to have, you can’t rely on them as the only form of control. You need to sit down with your child and explain the content they should be watching, and what they should look out for. Actually having the conversation with them will help them understand why there are parental controls in place.
Be approachable about content – Let your child know that you are there to chat to about anything. If they happen to come across something scary or a video that leaves them with questions, they need to feel comfortable talking to you about it. You would much rather have them come to you with these questions than trying to find out more on their own using the internet. Don’t get angry with them if they do happen across sketchy content, this might put them off coming to speak to you in future.
Set boundaries – On day one, you need to let your kids know the boundaries. Letting them roam free for a while and then setting up boundaries won’t go down too well. Tell them how long they are allowed online each day, and what content they are allowed to view. Setting up limits from day one will help keep them in check, and will let them know what they can and can’t do. This way it is also easier to discipline if they overstep the rules you have laid down, as everyone is aware of them.
Ask them about what they are watching – Always try keep up to date about the videos they are viewing, and watch with them sometimes if you can. Something may seem innocent to them, but it could be filled with inappropriate humour or messages. By watching the content, you can be sure that the videos are safe and age appropriate.
It is also important to remind them not to sit in front of a screen for most of the day. While the content can be really educational, a lot of it is also dribble that really does nothing for development. Rather, give them set times to watch and help them choose good content to view.
Taking away Youtube is really not an answer. The educational and entertainment value it offers is like nothing we had as kids growing up. Instead, take the time to speak to your kids and educate them on the dangers and questionable content to avoid on Youtube. Encourage them to be open about what they watch, and help them make the most of the amazing resource available to them.