Nov 20, 2016

Young girl laughing and watching youtube on tablet

Your child wants a YouTube channel and claims that ‘everyone is doing it’.

I don’t know about you but I don’t remember the topic ‘creating a YouTube channel’ in any of the parenting books I’ve read through the years. Like it or not, parenting today requires us to think outside the box and learn the tools our children are using to communicate.

I’ve been a blogger and social media consultant for about 8 years now. When my daughter approached me about a YouTube channel, I assumed it was a ‘girl thing’ since YouTube seems like a social activity. However, after chatting with a few friends, I quickly realized I was wrong because both boys and girls are wanting to create a YouTube accounts (and most parents are not sure how to help them get started). Is it really a good idea?

What Are Kids Posting on Their YouTube channel?

Having a YouTube channel is a fun way for kids to express themselves. It also helps them develop skill sets such as acting, broadcasting, and editing. Kids no longer sit in front of the TV and wait for their favorite shows to come on, they create their own videos or watch videos. Some kids are trying to be the next YouTube star like 8-year-old Evan with over 2-million subscribers and 3-trillion visits by doing toy reviews. Most YouTube videos created by kids fall into a few different categories:

  • ‘How to’ tutorials
  • Sports highlights
  • Homemade videos (jokes, parody’s or skits)
  • Product reviews (such as toys)

Tips to Keep Your Kids Safe on YouTube
While having a YouTube channel may be fun, it is essential for parents to use a few guidelines to keep them safe online. Below are a few tips to keep your kids safe while allowing their creativity to soar.

1. Register using a parent’s email account.
If your child is under age 13 they are required to use a parent’s email to set up a YouTube account. If they are over 13, consider also using a parent’s email so you receive alerts and notifications.

2. Use a screen name instead of real name.
For privacy, make sure your kids use a fictitious name (or the very least first name only). They should never disclose their personal information such as address or phone number.

3. Turn off ability to comment.
Opening comments only opens a can of worms which could lead to cyberbullying, trolling, and much more. In fact, YouTube has been thought responsible for recent increase in cyberbullying. Limit this problem by disabling comments completely.

4. Monitor videos.
Before your child starts posting YouTube videos, check out what they are doing on the videos and make sure it’s something you feel comfortable and appropriate for other children to view.

5. Sign a family contract on house rules for social media and mobile device use.
It’s a good foundation for an overall conversation about electronic and social media usage.

6. Change the privacy settings to private or unlisted.
YouTube gives users 3 choices for privacy settings, private, public and unlisted.

  • Public is the default setting and that means anybody can see your video.
  • Private means only those you invite to view the video can view it (they must have their own YouTube accounts and the maximum number is 50 usernames). Only those on the list can view your video and the video will not come up under any search results or your channel list.
  • Unlisted means your video will not come up in search results or on your channel either. In this mode, only those who know the link can view it, and you can share the link with anyone, even those who do not have a YouTube account/username. But be careful with who you share the link since the video could still be seen by anyone with the link!

Having conversations with your kids about online safety, using parental controls, and creating the right settings gives today’s digital parent some peace of mind while still allowing your kids the freedom to express their creativity.

Toni Schmidt

Toni Schmidt is a single mom to 2 young girls navigating unchartered territories of digital parenting. Toni is the social media manager for Net Nanny and has been featured on Huffington Post and NBC Philadelphia.