YouTube web­site black­hole for kids

Nelson Mail - - Weekend Technology - Blayne Slab­bert

If you ask a child what app they liked the best, they’d prob­a­bly say YouTube. Videos on the app get mil­lions of views a day, and many of those come from chil­dren.

YouTube has slowly be­come the world’s babysit­ter and the go-to site for tod­dlers through to teens.

But par­ents need to take care about let­ting their chil­dren spend too much time on the pop­u­lar video plat­form, be­cause this isn’t like let­ting your kids watch Play School.

Videos on YouTube are de­signed to be all-con­sum­ing and to al­ways keep kids want­ing more.

Par­ents and ed­u­ca­tors lamented the ar­rival of af­ter-school TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s, rais­ing con­cerns about kids spend­ing too much time watch­ing tele­vi­sion and be­ing ex­posed to ad­ver­tis­ing.

But TV shows are quite dif­fer­ent from YouTube. Shows only last a set amount of time, it’s clear what is and what isn’t ad­ver­tis­ing and they have to meet cer­tain broad­cast­ing stan­dards.

On YouTube any­thing goes and it can go for hours and hours. While a video may end, an­other one starts up straight away, or kids click on the next one in the queue, a sim­i­lar mech­a­nism used with slot ma­chines.

Also, ad­ver­tis­ing is more sub­tle and of­ten wo­ven into the videos or whole channels are ded­i­cated to buy­ing things.

There are now con­tent farms set up to cre­ate videos tar­geted at kids. They use fast pac­ing, bright colours and catchy mu­sic to cre­ate an ad­dic­tive ex­pe­ri­ence.

So what’s a par­ent to do? First, if your chil­dren are young, delete YouTube and in­stall YouTube Kids. It’s not per­fect but it’s less likely your kids will find videos with adult themes. The full YouTube app is rated 17-plus so kids should be su­per­vised when us­ing it.

Next, use set­tings within An­droid or iOS to limit the time YouTube can be used. While you could com­pletely cut your child off from YouTube, hav­ing a set time will let them en­joy some of the con­tent avail­able with­out overindulging.

YouTube is ac­tu­ally a great app and has some amaz­ing videos avail­able. How­ever, like so­cial me­dia apps, it’s not reg­u­lated or well mon­i­tored so there is a lot of con­tent that is not suit­able for chil­dren.

No child should have un­fet­tered ac­cess to any app or de­vice and YouTube is no dif­fer­ent.

On YouTube any­thing goes and it can go for hours and hours. While a video may end, an­other one starts up straight away...

Videos on YouTube are de­signed to be all-con­sum­ing and to al­ways keep kids want­ing more. And this can be a prob­lem.

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