How To Parent What Kids Watch on YouTube

For quite some time now, YouTube, which is owned by Google, has overtaken the activity of teens watching TV. So, instead of watching TV, we now see teens and kids just hanging out and watching whatever comes on and following their favourite Youtube channels or YouTube ‘stars’. 

YouTube is a video sharing site and app and their content “runs the gamut from commercial to educational to music and homemade clips.”  Read the Common Sense Media review of YouTube for Parents.

What are my kids watching on YouTube?

According to Devorah Heitner in her article that focuses on Parenting YouTube Kids the list of popular channels and YouTubers that kids might be into include:

  • Dude Perfect
  • Khan Academy
  • PewDiePie   
  • Fluffy Jet Toys
  • LadyLike (makeup, fashion, and product tests)
  • Troom Troom (pranks and crafts)
  • Liza Koshy
  • Roblox videos
  • Game Theory

The best way to know what your kids are watching is to ask them and then why they like it.  Kids watch certain channels or follow YouTube personalities because they’re entertained by them, and that depends on age, gender and interests. A follow-up question worth asking is, “Have you seen any videos that you didn’t like and why?”

If you find that your child has come across inappropriate content on YouTube, accidentally or intentionally, Heitner offers this advice: “Approach these situations with curiosity and ask how they ended up watching the video. Talk about how the video(s) made them feel, and if something isn’t appropriate for their eyes, calmly explain why and let them know how to handle it if they land on it again.”

One way to minimise this scenario is to encourage your kids to subscribe to their favourite channels rather than randomly looking for them. Choosing the channels to subscribe to together gives parents the opportunity to preapprove the videos to add to playlists or to Watch Later. Another option is to use a filter called Restricted Mode which can be found on the accounts setting page. 

How do I know if it’s appropriate for them to watch?

Reading Common Sense Media reviews of YouTube channels is a good way to get a sense of their age-appropriateness and quality. Watching them with your kids or on your own is a good idea. You never know what’s going to come up on a particular channel, since all the content is user-generated. You can also review the comments for negativity, hate speech and sexualised content. Channel creators can moderate them so if there are very few negative ones it may indicate a responsible creator.

Parents of young children welcomed YouTube Kids when it first launched as its picture-based navigation is easier than the parent site, videos are of high quality and there are some safety settings that parents can enable. However, concerns have been raised over its advertising, branded content and inappropriate content ‘slipping’ through the curation process.

According to the Common Sense Media review of YouTube Kidsif parents sign up for a YouTube Red subscription, there are no ads, and kids can watch offline. Other features include a timer, the ability to block videos or channels, and a way to disable the search feature – and parents can create their own passcodes. Also, parents can set up accounts for their kids that are pre-populated with content customized for their child’s age: Parents can select ‘Younger’ for videos geared toward preschool and 5-8 years old group and ‘Older’ to include content for kids age 9 through 12, like more gaming and music videos.”

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