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Humanizing our digital exhaust
The most important 3 min video you can watch with your kids on cyberbullying, YouTube Kids, possible merits of TikTok, and more.
They [kids] have no sense of values, no feeling of wonder, no sustained interest. Their shallowness of thought and feeling is markedly apparent, and they display a lack of cooperation and inability to finish a task.
The above was said by a teacher in response to a new device her students were using. To which device was she referring? *answer at the bottom
“Teach your kids to live with it, rather than shutting it off.”
As usual, Common Sense Media is a great resource for parents to learn more about all things tech and this is definitely the case with YouTube. This primer gives the basics and outlines FAQs parents have about YouTube.
More than any other platform, YouTube is one that all parents, caregivers, and educators should get to know because it is wildly popular with kids of all ages.
This New York Metro Parents article outlines the main concerns for parents when it comes to YouTube and gives some strategies on how to handle them.
The lack of control over search results ranks as one of the main issues facing parents. YouTube Kids can help solve this problem. Designed for kids 12 & under, it allows parents to create profiles for their kids, and it filters content based on age. Further, YouTube Kids allows parents to turn off the search function and only allow approved videos.
Of course, these security features aren’t foolproof and disturbing content can always sneak through, but such parameters limit the options, which on YouTube can be completely overwhelming and distracting (the epitome of a rabbit hole).
Given that inappropriate content can, and will, find its way through filters and setting limits is only a temporary solution as kids age and become more technologically savvy, it’s also imperative that parents discuss content viewing guidelines with their kids. This mom puts it best, saying:
We talk a lot about watching things that are appropriate. Once you see things, you can’t take them back out of your memory. You can’t take back those visuals—they stay with you forever. So, we say, if things feel a little bit awkward, we don’t watch them. If things make us feel bad, we don’t watch them. If they feel weird, if we don’t really understand them, they’re not for us.
As we begin to discuss media literacy, YouTube is ground zero for teaching kids to be savvy digital media consumers. Just as our generation uses google to find answers, today’s youth tends to use YouTube to get their news and information. Thus, it’s vital to begin discussing media literacy at a young age and to watch videos with your kids to provide your perspective and insight.
Being familiar with the influencers, celebrities, and channels your kids are watching is important and be sure to have conversations about consumerism and sponcon, “the business of getting paid to promote a company via social media.” Don’t assume that just because your kids aren’t watching broadcast television that they’re not being marketed to—the power of influencers can be far more nefarious and covert.
As the Metro Parents article highlights, don’t let your own potential unfamiliarity with YouTube keep you from realizing how important it is to your kids.
Finally, as we outlined a few weeks ago, YouTube has recently implemented changes in the wake of violations regarding children’s privacy. Hopefully, they’ll continue to go further in promoting YouTube Kids and educational programming, but we won’t hold our breath.
“Go Ahead, Google Me!”
We’re not dealing with cell phones; we’re not dealing with iPads; we’re not dealing with someone on a screen. We’re dealing with an actual human being.
A great campaign is afoot in schools across the country encouraging kids to think before they post online and reminding them that there is always a person behind the screen. We HIGHLY recommend watching this video with your kids and reminding them to ask themselves these questions before posting:
Is it true? (Not true; don’t post. Is true— move to question 2.)
Is it kind? (Not kind; don’t post. Is kind— move to question 3.)
Is it you? (This question isn’t covered in the video below, but more information is available here.)
Do I Have To?
TikTok meets Glee Club?
Common Sense Media’s 2019 Census revealed that despite spending an inordinate amount of time in front of screens, only a small percentage of kids are actually creating content.
Consumption crushes creation. The majority of young people devote very little time to creating their own content (just 2% of screen use among tweens and 3% among teens). Screen media use continues to be dominated by watching TV and videos, playing games, and using social media; use of digital devices for making art, creating music, coding, or writing remains minimal.
Given this, I was thrilled to see this article in the New York Times this week. For all its flaws, one could argue that the actual creation of media on TikTok is far better than mindless YouTube binging. As one teacher says in response to the TikTok club at his school, “You see a lot more teamwork and camaraderie.”
Check out these stats* for a glimpse of how YouTube functions as a primary news and entertainment source for kids:
Since 2015, the percentage of young people who say they watch online videos "every day" has doubled. For tweens, it is the media activity they enjoy the most, with 67% saying they enjoy it "a lot."
54 percent of teens get news from social media, 50 percent get news from YouTube and 41% get their news from news organizations, at least a few times a week.
Teens are as likely to learn about what’s happening from online influencers and celebrities as they are from news organizations and people in their lives.
Sixty percent of teens who get news from YouTube say they are more likely to get it from celebrities, influencers, and personalities, as compared to news organizations (39%). The difference is even more apparent among daily YouTube news consumers: 71% vs. 28%.
The teacher was talking about the television. It was the early 1950s and the teacher was outlining the changes she saw in her pupils since televisions had become common in homes across the U.S. For more about how television programming went from garbage children’s shows to the likes of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers and how YouTube requires a similar intervention, check out this fascinating article in The Atlantic.
Somewhere in my attic, I have a cassette (yes, you read that correctly) of my wobbly kid-voice recording a story titled, “Nancy Drew Gets Punched By a Monster.” It never really gets off the ground because my brother walks into the room, and I start yelling at him to leave. Things devolve from there. However, even without interruption, it wouldn’t have come close to this original composition by (almost) four-year old Fenn.
Thanks to Fenn for reminding us of all the good that exists on YouTube.
See you next week and remember to subscribe & share!