YouTube is one of the most important websites parents need to be aware of. Statistically, the easy availability of webcams, camera phones and handheld cameras finds kids shooting and downloading more videos then ever before. If you’re not familiar with YouTube, read on. YouTube is a website that allows users to upload and share original videos. It has become a popular place to go to see internet videos of every kind. Most of the uploaded videos are concert footage, sporting events, bootlegged commercial video and homemade movies. Posting video is simple; so much so that even young kids can download video easily, using the directions posted on YouTube.
So you may wondering what the problem is? The bottom line is YouTube is just like anything else that can be found on the internet. Videos from the awesome to the zany can easily be uploaded or viewed. While there is a lot of mature content, kids are more likely to see videos of other kids when they are acting out. There are pages of videos showing sexual content, violence and other behaviors that you would not want your children to see. Conversely, you wouldn’t want your kids posting videos that can get them in trouble or hurt other people. There is no arguing that YouTube is a great creative medium. It also functions as a place where kids can showcase their lives. However, as a parent, you must understand that it is only as responsible as the person uploading videos.
Before you simply ban YouTube, as some parents have done, here are some tips for using YouTube. These tips can help you, and your kids, communicate clearly about what should and should not happen on YouTube, and what you expect from them.
- Take a look for yourself. You will lack a certain credibility, if you have never visited the site yourself. More importantly, you will be able to have a much more open, and informed discussion, once you have seen for yourself.
- Know the guidelines. Most experts recommend YouTube postings as best for children ages 14and up. YouTube says kids 13 to 17 are welcome with permission from a parent or guardian but remember, you have to decide when you think your kids are ready for it.
- Make sure they know the rules. It is critical to teach your kids to protect their identities. Make sure that they understand that they should not include the following in videos: license plate numbers, images of your house, their bedrooms or their school. You should also make sure that none of their “tags”, or search identifiers, reveal their real names, locations, schools or anything else that could lead the wrong kind of people to them.
- Check your kids’ viewing history. You need to see if they have been visiting the site. If they have, ask them what they like about it. Be sure to ask your kids if they have ever posted anything, and if so, what? You should also check your kid’s social networking pages, and see if there are links to any of their YouTube postings.
- Watch their videos. If you allow your kids to post, ask that they let you check out their videos before they go live. They may not be happy about it, but that is your job as a parent. Remind your kids that posting videos can be really fun, but they never know who is watching, since YouTube has millions of viewers all over the world.
- Be aware of privacy concerns. Remind your kids to always mark their videos, as “private” so that only friends can watch them. You can figure out how to do this by going to the “Safety Tips” link at the bottom of all YouTube pages.