What to Do When Your Kid Wants to Have a YouTube Channel

This week I received this message on the Social Citizens Facebook page...

My son wants to make videos of himself gaming or doing whatever and become a famous YouTube gamer. My non-tech brain is freaking out because I don’t get this.

First of all, you are not alone.  This is a dilemma facing many parents due to the sheer volume of YouTube channels created by or targeted at our kids.  I remember when my son told me he wanted to make videos of him playing his video games and put them on YouTube.  My initial question was, "Why?".

When I looked into some of his favourite gaming YouTubers I had a better understanding.  "Stampy" has more YouTube subscribers than the population of the Province in Canada I live in. (He has over 8 million subscribers.)  He posts at least one video a day of himself playing games like Minecraft. 

My next phase in my education was when I worked with two YouTube Vloggers Ben Brown and Steve Booker during the summer of 2015 for a project at work.  I had no idea what a vlogger was.  In case you don't either, it is someone who records a video blog and shares on YouTube.  In Ben's case most of his videos are viewed over 100K times and he shares his adventures of his travels and life with his fans around the world.  They are both charming, talented and are making a successful living off their YouTube content.

I can totally understand the concerns you may have concerns about the risks of broadcasting on the Web -- and they are legitimate -- but your child may see it as a way of expressing herself, learning digital video creation skills, sharing with friends,  and sharing their creativity and passions.

The decision of whether you let you child do this or not is up to you.   It's important to balance your concerns with the potential benefits of this experience too.

pexels-photo.jpg

Mom, I want to have my own YouTube channel. 

If you do decide that it is ok to experiment, I suggest you establish clear rules and boundaries. For example:

1. Have your child create an outline that describes what videos they want to create, who they think will watch the videos, how often they will post their videos.  This exercise will demonstrate to them that a successful YouTube channel takes planning and work too, not just making fun videos.

2. Discuss what content is ok and what is not.  

3. No videos can be uploaded without your approval.  This way you can see all of the content and have a discussion before anything goes "live"

4. Ensure you discuss whether or not they can use their names in their videos.  You may want to consider using a character name like Stampy does.  Also be clear about sharing of personal information, like where you live, or information about your family and friends.

If you start here, the next step is deciding whether or not you will let them proceed with a channel and posting videos.  According to the rules of YouTube, you must be 13 years and older to create a channel.  If you do decide to proceed you can consider using the shared family account that I recommended in a previous article

Good luck with your decision!  

National Day of Unplugging

Did you know on March 3rd it is National Day of Unplugging?

Will you take the challenge of powering down and untethering from your "digital leash" for 24 hours?

Will you embrace the benefits of a day spent unplugged?

Focus on doing something with your kids, without technology. Play a board or card game, go for a walk or to a park together. Try to focus on the moment and all of the time you have free from looking at your smartphone.

For more inspiration, here are some ideas from www.nationaldayofunplugging.com

unplugnodate.png

Have a member of the family hide the other persons’ tech devices until the end of the 24-hour period (or time period decided in advance). Play the hot and cold game to find the hidden digital devices at the end of the unplugging time.

Have an unplugged scavenger hunt. Hide alternative activities, such as board games, materials for a science project or a series of books and create clues to find the alternative activities. Spend the afternoon playing together.

Create a family tree. Take time with your family to discuss your childhood, family history, stories and memories. Have each member share one memory and fill in their section of the tree. Create a beautiful piece of art that your family could hang for generations.

Cook favorite family recipes. From Bubbie’s Borsht to Nana’s Noodles with Cottage Cheese, cook the recipes that warm your heart and soul. Need inspiration? Visit BeyondBubbie.com.

Have a Family Book Club. Pick a book that appeals to everyone in your family. Read it together and discuss over a meal. Have kids create art based on themes from the book.

3 Ways to Determine How Much Screentime is Right for Your Child

I read this article today after this title jumped out at me 10 Reasons Why Handheld Devices Should Be Banned for Children Under the Age of 12

WHOAH! Am I bad parent? My son is 11 and I let him use a smartphone.

It seems like everyday I find a different article or story on the news warning about too much "screentime".

pokemon-pokemon-go-phone-game-159395.jpeg

How do you determine what is best for you and your children?

1. Be informed.  Don't let one article determine what to do.  Seek out many sources to help provide you with as much information as you can. Be as informed as you can and decide for yourself.

2. Talk to your doctor  It is a good idea to have a conversation with your medical professional too. Here are the guidelines for screen time use according to The American Academy of Pediatrics and the Canadian Society of Pediatrics:

  • infants aged 0-2 years should not have any exposure to technology,
  • 3-5 years be restricted to one hour per day
  • 6-18 years restricted to 2 hours per day

3. Don't compare yourself to others.  Remember, what is right for one parent doesn't mean it has to be right for your parenting style. 

The article says that Children and youth use 4-5 times the recommended amount of technology, with serious and often life threatening consequences.

For me, the KEY is balance - use the guidelines as a boundary so that you can help ensure your kids are getting a healthy balance of activities in their lives.  Is homework getting done?  Are his grades where we want them to be? Is he socializing and playing with friends outside of school? Is he participating in his sports willingly and with passion and excitement?

Whew, I think I am doing pretty good so far... 

Review: Screenagers - A Documentary

This week I attended a screening of the documentary Screenagers.  I was eager to see it ever since I saw the trailer online. I was engaged and interested throughout the 1 hour and 7 minute film.

Dr. Delaney Ruston, the director of the movie is also a physician and a mom to two teenage children.  She shares her personal experience of allowing her daughter to get a smartphone. She also interviews researchers and experts on the affects of digital addiction and the young brain.  

The documentary covers many issues for families of tweens/teens including how to manage how much screen time to let your child have, video games, social media, the distraction of smart phones can cause and internet addiction.

The documentary hit home for me, as it touched on exactly what I am trying to do with the Social Media Citizenship movement.  It gathers interesting information and presents it in a balanced and engaging way.  It stimulated a healthy discussion and conversation in our family about screen time and social media.

I also appreciated that it did not delve into alarmist/extreme topics of cyber stalking etc. The key message of balance and understanding how technology can affect people of all ages will be a strong takeaway for all who see it.

screenagers.jpg

4 Ways for Your Kids to Watch YouTube Safely

My kid doesn't watch TV, instead he watches videos on YouTube.  I'm sure you might have some of the same concerns that I do "Is he watching too much?" and "Are the videos appropriate?".  Unfortunately, there are dangers on YouTube -  you can find porn, profanity and other inappropriate content for kids without even trying.  I am sure you would want to do all that you can to help avoid your child accidentally seeing any of that.

download.png

Here are 4 tips to help you encourage your child's experience will be a positive one:

1. If you have younger children, download the YouTube Kids App on the device (tablet, smartphone, smart tv) they watch videos on.  It is FREE to use and only shows family-friendly videos. You can also control the search functionality if you want to allow your child to explore the content or not. 

The app has some cool features such as the ability for you to set a timer to set how much time they spend watching videos.

You can select the age level of videos you want:

  • nursery school age
  • school age
  • all kids

The app will provide recommendations of other videos based on the age you have selected.  You have the flexibility to update the age level setting at any time.

The complete Parental Guide  for YouTube Kids is very comprehensive with information on how to set parental controls, how to customize your content and other helpful tips

2. You can set parental controls known as Safety mode on YouTube too.  It is easy to do and will take you less than a minute. Log in to your account. (YouTube users can sign in with either a Google or YouTube account)

  • Navigate to YouTube, and open the safety settings.

  • When the YouTube home page loads up, look for the "Safety" link near the bottom of the page, and click on it.

  • Turn the safety mode on and then click the Save button.

  • To lock these changes so no one can change them without your password, click "Lock safety mode on this browser".  You will be prompted to enter your password and this feature can only be unlocked if you enter that password again.

  • Log out to lock in the changes.

You can test if the feature is activated when you do a search - a video that would not meet the requirements will say "Some results have been removed because the safety mode is enabled"

On a tablet like an iPad, or on a smartphone the only parental control on the YouTube app is SafeSearch. To do this:

  • Open your app and click on the 3 dots (more menu) on the upper right hand corner.

  • Click "Settings"

  • Click "General" 

  • Scroll to the bottom and find "Restricted Access" and slide to on.

This feature will filter out most of the inappropriate content but it is not always fool proof.

3. Set up a shared family account or use your account to sign in Youtube. This allows you to see what videos they are watching when you look at the history button.  I personally like this and check the history daily.  You can set up an account the same way you would creating a new Gmail account, click "Create An Account" and you are good to go!

4. Ask your child what they are watching.  I frequently ask my son, who is your favorite YouTuber? This creates an opportunity to learn more about what they like to watch, and for you to do some homework on who your child is watching.  Use Google to find out more about these online video creators.  Perhaps you heard about the YouTube celebrity PewDiePie in the news lately?  A couple of years ago my son was obsessed with the Minecraft videos he had on YouTube, so needless to saywas very concerned.  Fortunately, at the time I had previewed the Minecraft videos and never heard or saw anything inappropriate but this certainly raises a reminder we have to continue to check in with our kids. 

Another option is to ask, "Can I watch with you?" If they quickly close the video, it may raise a red flag for you.  I try to find videos we can watch together so that he feels comfortable with me sitting next to him from time to time rather than an abrupt "show me what you are watching" approach.

Some suggestions of YouTube videos we enjoy are Eh Bee Family and of course, Ted Talks especially their TedXYouth Channel .

YouTube can be a great site for discovering new things and exploring ideas. 

Let me know if you have any tips on how you ensure your children are watching YouTube safely, I would love to hear them.

What is a Social Citizen?

so·cial cit·i·zen

noun
noun: social citizen; plural noun: social citizens.

  1. A social citizen is a person who develops the knowledge and skills to use social media and other digital media effectively and responsibly.

  2. To be a good social citizen you must have respect for yourself and others online and have a positive attitude.

  3. You are responsible and accountable for your actions on social media.

I wrote this definition, because this is a new term. 

I hope you join me as I start a movement.  The purpose?  I want to encourage adults and kids to learn about how social media works, and how they can use it to enrich their lives in a positive way.

We are all spending more time on the internet.  Kids are watching their parents use social media to connect with friends and family on Facebook, read the latest news on Twitter, or search for a helpful "How To" video on YouTube.  Lots of children know how to use a tablet like an iPad when they can barely speak.

But no one has taught us the right way of doing this.  We learn as we go.  And that's ok for adults to experiment with, but I believe we have a responsibility to educate our kids on how to effectively use digital and social media.  I know that when we have good information, we make better choices.

I am excited to share my knowledge of social media with you.  My goal is to help make you feel comfortable so that you can have better conversations with your kids about using it.

I will provide you with a balanced approach of information. This will include the latest information on popular social media channels such as Instagram, YouTube, SnapChat, Musical.ly, and more.  I will also provide you with important information on how to keep your kids safe online.

I will be writing articles here on this site, and will post tips and videos on the Facebook Page

I am available to provide workshops for parents and kids too.  More information will be shared soon.