What Affect is YouTube Having on Our Kids?
It's no secret that YouTube is a powerful force. With over one billion users, it's the world's second most popular website - and for good reason.
It's a goldmine of information, entertainment, and connection. But with great power comes great responsibility - and YouTube has come under fire in recent years for its effects on young people.
1. The positives of YouTube
There are many benefits to YouTube. Parents across the country have encouraged their children to use it as a tool for learning, communication, and entertainment.
From tutorials on how to fix appliances in your house to explanations of difficult chemistry topics, YouTube is an invaluable resource for both kids and adults alike.
2. The negatives of YouTube
However, there is a dark side to YouTube - one that has parents worried about the affect it may be having on their children.
Studies have shown that too much time spent online can lead to depression, anxiety, social isolation, increased aggression, poor grades, low self-esteem, poor sleeping habits, negative body image, poor nutrition choices, and even obesity.
Is this true?
Is there any truth to the fears expressed by so many parents across the globe?
After all, most young people who watch videos online wouldn't dream of doing the crazy, dangerous things they see in those videos - would they?
To answer this question, let's take a look at some of the most popular types of videos on YouTube: Some are educational, some are entertaining, and others are plain sensationalistic - but all could have an affect on children in one way or another.
- How-to videos; Some parents argue that instructional YouTube videos can be dangerous because they could inspire children to try risky things without realising how much danger they're putting themselves in. Tons of tutorials exist, teaching young people how to do everything from lighting small fires with lighters to popping their own back zits. When you consider that many children don't even know what lighter fluid is - let alone why it would be dangerous for them to handle it in certain situations - it's suddenly easy to see the problem with this type of video content.
- Animal videos; Animal videos have been one of YouTube's biggest draws since its launch in 2005 - and they continue to be a major source of entertainment for children and adults alike. Watching a cute little hamster scramble around in a bright pink ball can certainly be entertaining - but many parents worry that kids aren't just watching these videos for fun… They're studying them. As any scientist will tell you, observational learning is one of the best methods for learning new behaviors. Children who watch animals on YouTube may come away from their experience thinking that it's fine to copy what they see other creatures doing - whether or not those creatures are safe to imitate. For example, an instructional video on how to give your dog a bath might encourage kids to watch it again and again - until they have the entire process memorised. While that can be an excellent way for them to learn what needs to be done when the family dog gets dirty, it could also lead children to try giving their own furry friends baths without realising that dogs are sensitive creatures who need very special care when being bathed!
- Skateboarding videos; YouTube is filled with tons of videos showing young people doing all kinds of wild tricks with their skateboards. The problem with this is, every child has a different skill level - so if they try to imitate something that's way beyond their ability, they could end up seriously injuring themselves.
- Music videos; YouTube has become an amazing tool for music students of all ages. They can access thousands of songs and pieces of music at the click of a mouse - making it easy to learn new pieces without ever stepping inside a brick-and-mortar music store . However, a knock-on effect is that many teens are watching hours upon hours of rap videos in order to study lyrics and figure out what makes certain artists more appealing than others. Some would say that this isn't strictly a productive use of time.
- Educational videos; When YouTube first started, users had to load videos one at a time. Now that the site has become more sophisticated, though, some educators are using it in order to provide their students with new information without ever setting foot inside a classroom. For example, if your child's science teacher wants to show his or her class how to dissect a frog, he or she can simply make a video of the process and upload it for all of the kids in the class to watch later on. That way, they'll get all of the information they need - without needing to spend hours on their knees poking around inside an actual frog!
3. The effects
So, how does this affect our kids?
It's no coincidence that children are spending more time online than ever before. With smartphones in almost every child's pocket, it's easy for them to quickly hop online anytime they have a minute to spare.
If you ask the average middle schooler if they'd rather play Xbox or read a book, chances are high that video games will win out.
4. Why should we care?
Two words: screen time.
We all know that too much screen time is harmful to our children, but it's hard to enforce these rules when YouTube is just a click away.
It's so easy for kids to lie about how long they've been on their devices - it can take seconds for them to toss a phone under the covers and claim it was in their bed the whole time while really spending hours online.
Parents need to be vigilant about monitoring their children's "screen time," making sure they're not using technology or watching videos until exhaustion takes over and they collapse from sleep deprivation.
5. Why does this happen?
The real question isn't why do kids use YouTube so much - it's "why do so many kids gravitate toward online content"? Why does something like gaming seem to be the most popular activity on the site? Is this really what we want our children to be watching and playing?
YouTube has done a lot of good for the world. It's allowed us access to knowledge and entertainment that would otherwise have been inaccessible to a lot of people.
But as with everything else in life, moderation is key. Parents need to monitor their children's time spent online carefully, encouraging them to spend some of that screen time reading books, exercising , and getting outside more.
6. What can you do as a parent?
- Limiting your child's exposure to YouTube isn't easy, but there are steps you can take: * Set up daily screen time limits. * Don't allow them to use technology until a certain time of day - preferably after dinner and in the morning before school starts .
- Have a conversation with your kids; Ask what they like about YouTube and what kinds of videos they watch. Encourage them to play sports, work on their hobbies, and read when they're not glued to their screens.
- Talk to your child's teacher about limiting screen time during the school day. It may be easier than you think! Something as simple as requiring that all devices be shut off during lunch or blocking access once the final bell rings can make a big difference over time.
YouTube is a great resource for entertainment and education. But, like everything else in life, too much of it can be bad for you!
As parents, we need to make sure our children don't spend all day on YouTube when they could be doing other things that are more productive or fun.
Chances are, if you set up some rules about screen time and enforce them, they'll be more likely to get their work done.
If you're interest in how social media affects our kids, take a look at these other related articles:
What Affect is Twitter Having on Our Kids?