What are the pros and cons of kids watching YouTube? Technology and social media have become a part of our everyday lives. Who’s watching the latest videos on Tik Tok and YouTube? Who is scrolling Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? We all do it. We live in a society now where social media dominates our lives and we have access to it all the time. Gone are the days when you pick up the phone to just talk to someone now it’s about posting and liking pictures and videos they post on social media.
Technology is powerful because we have instant access and immediate gratification 24 hours a day. The question is how is it affecting our children? Is social media good or bad for kids? I can only speak from my own experience and the debate about YouTube among parents varies. The way I see it is if you let them watch TV then there is nothing wrong with them watching YouTube as long as you are monitoring what they are watching.
YouTube has its benefits, but it also has its vices. The addiction to social media content can spiral out of control if not monitored. At the moment my son is only seven so the only social media content I have to worry about is YouTube. My son watches both regular YouTube and Kids YouTube because they have different content that he likes to watch. I prefer the Kids YouTube because it is safer and you are able to set parental control easily so you don’t have to constantly be looking over their shoulders. However, Kids YouTube doesn’t have everything my son is interested in.
He doesn’t like cartoons that much so when you are looking up how Big Ben works or how pavers are built and work the regular YouTube is the place to find those kinds of videos. Every kid is different so you as a parent have to make the decision of what is best. I like to feed into my son’s latest obsessions mostly because YouTube can give him an education that neither I nor school can give him. There is a lot to consider when debating if it is okay for your kids to watch YouTube so let’s dive into the pros and cons of kids on YouTube.
Pros Of Kids On YouTube
Academic & Learning Resource
I have found that from a young age that YouTube can be used as a learning resource. If they are going to be sitting in front of a tablet they might as well be learning something. There are plenty of YouTube channels that will help promote learning from a young age. It’s like the new Sesame Street, but with more variety for the little ones. Another benefit is the educational content to help students understand History, Algebra, and Science. Who needs a hire a tutor when you have YouTube to help them with their homework.
As much as I love teachers every teacher has their own style of teaching and some of them are not great because everyone learns differently. Having another resource to help your kid grasp and retain what they are learning at school is a big help. They got something for every age checkout FeedSpot for 100 Educational YouTube Channels.
Exploring Their Sense of Identity
YouTube allows kids to explore their interests easily while providing entertainment. Their hunger for knowledge is amazing because they can change from week to week. They can go from watching science videos to watching cheesy videos about preteens exploring different personas. Whether we like it or not our kid’s identity and how they are perceived by others is going to happen.
Kids are able to watch what we as adults consider silly videos about some preteen being the jock, the artist, the nerd, or whatever other category they are going to eventually meet with when they get to middle school and high school. Exploring their identity and understanding acceptance of others is displayed in these kinds of shows so it gives them a head start instead of getting smacked in the face with it at school.
Discover Interests and Talents
YouTube also gives your kids the ability to discover new interests and talents. It helps them realize what they like and don’t like. Many kids learn that they love to dance, sing, or even act. Although kids’ minds are always changing when they discover what they like they go all in. YouTube has been responsible for many of my son’s obsessions. It all started with him discovering it on YouTube.
He learns and is constantly developing as he is growing up. He loves trucks just like every little boy does, but knowing the purpose of that truck and how they benefit people and the community every day came from YouTube. He wants to be an EMT one day because it includes helping people and trucks. The ideas kids get from YouTube gives them the opportunity to develop ideas and pursue their dreams at a much younger age.
Cons Of Kids On YouTube
There is nothing worse than having to tell my son to pick a different video because the content is way too mature for him. It has caused many tantrums and meltdowns in my house. Now you might be thinking then don’t let him watch YouTube and only allow him to watch Kids YouTube, but that is easier said than done. Besides some of the content on Kids YouTube isn’t appropriate either.
YouTube can only control so much with millions of videos added daily. Sure they monitor it, but it is all about the parent’s view of what is considered mature content for their kids. YouTube Kids is the safer bet for parents because of the parent controls and the fact that it is certified kid-friendly. However, kids to grow up and mature are going to want to watch YouTube so instead of shutting them down talk to them and monitor what they are watching.
All because they are not approaching them on the street doesn’t mean bad people don’t exist. They just sit behind a screen now instead of a white windowless van. Just last week some truck guy went live and the comments started popping up on my son’s screen. He knows all about stranger danger, but this was a whole new level. Was this guy going live showing trucks a bad guy I doubt it, but when kids have access to any kind of social media, not just YouTube they have to be aware and know that they never talk or communicate with strangers.
The issue I have is that technology has made it 100X easier for predators to interact with our children so we have to be hyper-aware of what they are watching and doing. These kids watch videos and channels so they feel like they know the person, but in reality, they don’t. Explaining to them about Stranger Danger at the park or walking to school is no longer enough. We have to talk to them about being careful on the internet and social media. You can read 9 Best Tips To Keep Kids Safe Online to give you a leg up.
The truth is that most grown adults are addicted to Social Media including me. I wonder if they have a TikTok’s Anonymous. Because I have a serious addiction to it. I can spend hours scrolling through TikTok watching videos. They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. While my addiction is TikTok my husband and sons are YouTube. These days kids can’t live without technology. Kevin Hart did a whole skit on taking his son’s phone away and all I can think was YUP! Was it funny? Yes because as a parent I can relate and have literally watched my son meltdown over taking away his iPad.
The way you can counteract that is to create have screen time limits. Make sure to spend time together and take interest in what they are watching. It is no different than watching TV together. Also, plan fun activities where the phone or tablet are not needed. For example, you are going to the park. There is no need to bring their tablet or phone with them because they are going to play. It also helps to get them out of the house as often as possible to promote physical activity.
I know that everyone has different parenting styles and every child is different, but I hope this article helped you understand that YouTube is not necessarily a make-or-break decision. In my personal experience, my son has benefited from watching it because as a working mama it can be heard to devote hours to academics and learning. There are also times I need a break just like every other mama out there.
YouTube has expanded his curiosity and has taught him so much that he would never learn in school. Social Media is not going anywhere, but as long as you watch and listen to what they are watching it can be a fun and safe activity for them. You have to do what you are comfortable with and at the same time know that we live in a different world today so YouTube is just a part of that world. It is what you make of the technology around you and your family that will dictate the experience your kids have with YouTube.
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I have a love hate relationship with YouTube for littles. My daughter was older by the time YouTube got big. But my niece and nephew are huge on it. Sometimes my sister wins the battle of limiting and other days she’s too tired. At first I was completely against them being on there but my niece has learned a craft and my nephew got better with his reading from the shows he watched.