Kids Glued to YouTube? Here are 7 Ways to Keep them Safe While Having Fun

I spend a lot of time on YouTube. I watch health, parenting, and cooking videos until my eyes cross. And on the weekends I become a DIY expert thanks to YouTube teaching me how to caulk my tub, fix my lawn mower, and change the oil in my car. YouTube is amazing. But, it’s also got some safety glitches that can impact your family.

As much time as I spend on YouTube, I know my kids hang out there even more. In fact, they are no doubt part of the loyal 30 million people that log-on to the video channel every single day.

If your kids and their friends are huddled around a phone screen, laughing hysterically chances are they are on YouTube where viral videos, hilarious stunts, and make-up and beauty tutorials rule the day. YouTube is also the music hub for up and coming artists as well as the celebrity launching pad for countless teen YouTubers that captivate millions of teen fans.

Unfortunately, along with the fun, kids can also encounter inappropriate content and behavior. Site guidelines state that users are not to post: “Nudity, pornography, or other ‘sexually explicit’ content, or harmful or dangerous content that encourages others to do things that might lead to injury. Or, violent or graphic content that’s shocking, sensational, or disrespectful or hateful content that promotes or condones violence.” However, people have found ways around these rules and like any other platform, unsafe content finds its way in.

Family-Related YouTube Facts:

  • Despite the popularity of sites such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, more teens report using YouTube over any other platform.
  • YouTube on mobile alone reaches more 18-34 and 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S.
  • The number of hours people spend watching videos on YouTube is up 60% year-over-year. In fact, 6 out of 10 people prefer online video platforms to live TV.
  • YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine and third most visited site after Google and Facebook.

So with all this time spend glued to video content, here are just a few tips to help sharpen your YouTube skill and keep your kids safe on this popular platform.

YouTube Family Talking Points:

  1. Respect age limits. To create a YouTube account, users must be at least 13 yrs old. These age limitations are in place for a reason. Kids can encounter crude language, inappropriate content, and get into conflicts in the comment section of the videos. So, whether your child wants to browse videos, or create his or her own channel, make sure he or she is of age to become part of the YouTube community. If they can’t wait, set up a family account and keep tabs on your child’s activity. Any videos they view on the account will show up in the History button on the left-hand side of the screen.
  2. Use the platform. If your kids love YouTube and you want to understand the risks, spend time there. Ask them what their favorite channels are and look around. Get to know kids’ favorites such as: PewDiePie, Smosh, NigaHiga, Bethany Mota, Shane DawsonTV, Tyler Oakley, Zoella, Joey Graceffa, Nash Grier, and Todrick Hall.
  3. Block pornography. Worried about inappropriate content? Google has a security filter, or safety mode, in YouTube that if turned on, will hide objectionable videos from the site. However, this option isn’t 100% reliable. If you want to make sure nothing inappropriate streams into your home, filtering software is a must.
  4. Report problems. If you see a video that is inappropriate, harmful, or incites bullying, report it to YouTube. YouTube’s policy center covers everything from harassment, to hate speech, to childhood endangerment.
  5. Discuss concerns immediately. If your kids view or post questionable content on YouTube, or comment inappropriately, address it immediately. Speak with your kids directly about editing or removing videos, comments, or profile information that compromises their safety or reputation.
  6. Read YouTube’s Safety Center. Take the time to read through the YouTube Safety Center for anything and everything related to safety such as privacy settings, cyberbullying and harassment, suicide and self-harm content, and other issues directly related to teens.
  7. Be wise with video. Video content goes viral quickly. Remind kids: Don’t post or share videos you wouldn’t want your Grandmother to see. Show discernment and wisdom in the content you post, comment on, and share with others.

YouTube and other video-based platforms grow each year in popularity. Connecting, sharing, and expressing oneself through a video community is likely one of your child’s favorite online activities. So, have fun with it too, explore the video world, learn, and more important, know how to coach your kids through the danger zones.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @McAfee_Family. (Disclosures).

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