For a lot of children, YouTube has become a major part of their screen time. It’s the land of music videos, funny pet videos, and vloggers sharing video game tips. Yes, they know that there are TV and cable, but they get most of their screen entertainment from YouTube. And kids who enjoy watching YouTube videos may want to create their own videos themselves.
So what if your kid wants to become a YouTuber? As a parent, you may not understand why. Naturally, your first instinct is to become cautious, now that more people are becoming aware of the dangers of sharing in social media platforms. Perhaps you’ve heard of news about other young children becoming suicidal because of the bullying they receive online. Your concerns about the risks of your kid broadcasting on the web is legitimate, but before you discourage your kid, know that being a YouTuber can enrich your child’s skills in many ways. As long as you keep a watchful eye over your kid’s online endeavors and follow some basic rules, then it’s possible for it to become a safe endeavor for your children.
Why does my kid want his own YouTube channel?
Online video stardom may have replaced big-screen fame as a dream for young children. Unlike making it big in Hollywood, becoming a YouTube star became an easier and more accessible goal for kids.
It may seem foreign to parents, but making a YouTube video isn’t so different from performing for friends and family – it’s just the audience that’s bigger. You may have grown up putting a show with your siblings at family gatherings, but now children are choosing to upload their performances for the world to see. For kids, they may see it as a way of expressing themselves. As they a lot of YouTube videos, many ideas have popped into their heads, bringing the desire to make the idea a reality. They see other kids “following their dreams” on their own channels, like creating content of their own, making cool video effects and putting it out for other kids to see, and this becomes an exciting pursuit for kids.
Social media is also powerful because kids and pre-teens (and even teens and adults) crave validation and acceptance. As a kid, hearing “Good job!” and “I’m proud of you” from your parents built your self-esteem, and if you never heard it, you may have longed for these affirming words. Getting likes, subscribers and positive comments bring that exciting jolt of approval that keeps them coming back for more. Research has shown that positive notifications activate the brain’s reward system and release dopamine. For the young who are exploring their sense of self and developing their identity outside their family and immediate caregivers, those likes and other affirming notifications might be even more significant.
Advantages of letting your kid have his own YouTube channel
While parents should be aware of the risks that come with the use of social media, they should not block your kids from using it altogether. If you forbid your children from doing it, your kid will find ways to do it anyway, but they will create in secret. In that case, kids will be less likely to turn to their parents when they need help or when questions and problems arise because they will fear reproach.
Letting your kids make a video of their own, produce it and upload it can have a positive influence in their lives. Besides potential fame and fortune (although you must establish to your child first that this doesn’t always happen), there are important life skills they can get from being a YouTuber.
First and foremost, it encourages your kids to be creative and dedicated. Of course, there are always ideas behind great videos, and as your kid try to execute it and film it, they are learning. Creativity is an important skill, and letting your kids explore it through video production will help them enjoy while developing vital skills. Also, making great channels take a lot of work. Planning content, filming videos, editing and promoting can take time and effort, which means your child must be dedicated. It would be helpful for them if they develop focus, hard work and dedication early on, as this trait will help them succeed in school and in their future jobs. This can also be a way for your child to develop their passion, which can give them the drive and ambition later on.
Also, letting them start their own YouTube channel gives your kids an edge. Publishing online videos gives the kids experience navigating a website, writing headlines and descriptions, and posting content – all skills that they can apply in school, college or work. Also, making the videos require their own skill set. Kids can learn how to use a camera; frame their shots; and work with sound, lighting, and editing. These technical skills can help them in a lot of ways in the future, especially if they decide to pursue media-related courses in the future. This also provides them with an opportunity to hone their communication skills, because producing content requires kids to think about their message and build what they want to say.
This can also bring you and your kid closer together. Many kids are less than thrilled to hang out with their parents and may be content with just playing video games and watching videos on their phone in their room, but making videos together can keep your children interested in family gatherings. When going on outings, your kids will look forward to the trip and be more engaged if you let them take their camera and make a YouTube video out of it if they want to.
It is important to balance your concerns with the benefits your kids can reap. With your support and guidance, your child can do it safely, and it might be a fun project that can be useful as your child grows older.
You can keep YouTube safe and friendly for your child as long as you stay involved, open and supportive. Children’s online activities must be age-appropriate and the younger the kid is, the more involved you should be.
First, you need to talk to your child openly about it. Ask why they want to start a YouTube channel. This is significant because it can allow you to understand what the child is aiming to gain from it.
Ask what kinds of videos they want to create. Are they planning to teach others or give some tips on how to play a particular video game? Do they want to show off their singing or dancing talents, or perhaps their arts and crafts skills? Do they simply want to upload funny videos of your family pet or funny situations in your home?
Take a look at their favorite YouTube channels, especially the ones they are planning to imitate or the ones whom they got inspiration from. Ask your child what he/she liked about them. Explore the videos posted by the YouTubers they like for you to see what potential videos your kid is planning to create. Also, ask if there are YouTube channels they don’t like and know what makes your child dislike them.
The best way to stay involved was to learn about editing software and help your child edit and upload videos, especially if your kid is in elementary school. Older kids may not need help about this, but editing together can be a fun activity for you and your child while allowing yourself to keep tabs on the content your kid is uploading.
However, avoid getting too involved and let your kid explore and create on their own. Don’t dismiss all their ideas and suggestions too much – remember, it’s their channel, not yours. Just tell your kids to consider you as a kind of producer, who needs to check in on your content and let them know you can always bounce their ideas on you.
Starting a YouTube channel needs a time commitment from both the parent and child. So parents must ensure that they have the time to monitor their kid’s activity before allowing them to create and upload content on YouTube.
Also, approach the conversation with curiosity and without judgment. It’s comforting for a child if their parents also get interested in the things they are interested in, but if you aren’t interested in the things they like, at least show understanding and support.
Know the rules and how to set it up
The decision to allow your child to join any social media platform must depend on the child’s age, emotional maturity and valid reasons for wanting to put themselves out in the wide web. If you decide to allow your kid to create his/her own channel, here’s what you need to know.
YouTube is intended for users 13 years old and above, and children between ages 12 to 17 are only allowed to open accounts with parental permission. However, many younger children have their own channel. There are no rules that say anything about parents opening an account for their child, and this is happening all over YouTube. In fact, there’s a kid named Ryan and is one of YouTube’s biggest stars (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChGJGhZ9SOOHvBB0Y4DOO_w/featured), with more than 17 million subscribers watching him open, play and review toys (“unboxing” videos are one of the most popular video genres for kids). You can make your child use your created account and make all uploads through you. This way, you can supervise the channel, but it can be cumbersome for you.
You can help your kid set up a YouTube channel if they are under 13 years old.
1. Create a Gmail account. This gives users an instant YouTube account, but not a channel.
2. Click on the icon on the right side of the YouTube homepage and select My Channel. From there you can customize the channel, add channel art and description, and upload content. For kids, make sure they won’t use their real, full names for safety purposes since these will be broadcast to anyone watching the videos.
3. Customize the privacy settings. Set the privacy settings to private or unlisted. Private means those who are invited to view the channel are the only ones who will be able to watch the videos; while unlisted means only those with the video links can see them. You can turn off comments so your kid won’t have to read any inappropriate or unkind remarks. This is the safest way to keep your kid producing content in YouTube, but if you kid is trying to build a following, this is counterproductive.
4. Turn on safety mode. Safety mode helps block videos with mature content. To lock the browser into safety mode and prevent your kids from disabling it, parents must use their own YouTube account and password. It’s best to individually lock safety mode on every browser (ex. Chrome, Firefox, Safari) on all your kids’ gadgets (laptop, smartphone, etc.) Also, ensure that geotagging is turned off so no one can see the location of your child.
Discuss content and keep it safe
Be clear with your child about the contents that are okay to post or say in videos, and what should stay private. If you allow them to go public (so as to earn subscribers and viewers from around the world), teach your kids not to over-share and teach them not to share private information, like their full name, the school they go to or what teams they play for, the names of their family members, teachers, friends or caretakers, and information about their birthdays, age, address, and whereabouts. Ensure that no personal and private information is inadvertently revealed.
Have your child write a proposal or simply discuss with you what they want for the channel. Let them describe what they want to post, who their target audience is and how often they want to post videos. This way you can be in the know about the contents they want to create.
It is recommended that you don’t allow your children to show their faces in their videos. This means if your child only wants to create their own animation shows, narrate gameplay tips, or stay behind the camera as a videographer, it’s a lot safer.
But if your kid wants to showcase their talents like singing, dancing or acting, you need to provide additional guidance. It is recommended to discuss potential risks of sharing, and consider first having videos listed as private. Share it first with immediate family members and close friends. By starting out with a safe audience, your child can ask for constructive feedback about what’s working well.
Once your child’s channel is up and running, continue supporting him/her. Check in regularly to see whether there are issues or conflicts popping up. Approach your child with an open mind so that your kid would continue to count on you for advice and guidance.
Talk about fame
Some kids just want an outlet for their creative ideas, while some want to be famous and see YouTube as the path to stardom. There are kids that can get super famous and make tons of money, but it only happens for a few. Teach your kid that fame is not certain and it’s an outcome your child must not count on. Talk to your child the difference between the difference between achieving fame in the numerical sense against the satisfaction that comes with making your family and friends smile. Help your child recognize that fame is not a worthy goal, as it can put unnecessary pressure to perform. As a parent, you can assess if your child is emotionally stable and mature enough to handle fame, but most of the times, kids can get stressed and overwhelmed, so talk to your child right away before anything goes viral.
Talk about cyberbullying and overcoming negativity
There are people who have too much time on their hands and loves posting negative comments on YouTube. Harsh, rude, hateful and inappropriate remarks can certainly make your child feel bad, but your kid doesn’t need it. This is why turning off comments will help keep YouTube a friendly place for your kid.
Cyberbullying is a real issue and parents must be aware of it. Supervise your child’s online activities, as they may become a victim or a perpetrator. It is important to keep a loving and understanding environment within your home so your kid won’t crave the validation of strangers from the internet. This can also prevent your kids from being a cyber-bully. For elementary school-age kids, encourage your kids to seek in-person feedback from friends and family, rather than people they don’t know and may potentially insult them. For older children, like those in high school, and sharing to YouTube their views about politics, social issues or causes they care about, comments can be appropriate and helpful. But tell them they need to be thick-skinned to deal with potential negative comments, oppositions, harassment and inappropriate comments. Tell them to block and report inappropriate comments instead of fighting and commenting back. Regularly check the comments section in their channel to monitor what your child may be seeing.
As you discuss content with your child before they start their own channel, make them aware of these risks – that people can be harsh online – and have a plan on how to deal with it from the start. If they are harassed online, let them know that you care and be there for them. Tell them that they should not let strangers’ comments get in their heads.
No channel, no problem
If you decide that the risks outweigh the benefits when it comes to your kid sharing their content to the world, let your kid know that you are simply concerned about the risks of posting online. Tell your child that you support them in their interests, but aren’t comfortable with them being on the internet. Then, offer support in other ways. For instance, if your kid has a talent when it comes to performing, you may suggest that they join a school play, dance group or choir/band instead. If they like video editing and production, see if there’s a class they can take to learn it, or support them by providing downloadable editing tools (or allowing them to download or buy these software). There are lots of video editing tools that kids can use to create their own videos and share with just family and friends.
Let them practice their skills first and be good at it before you allow them to be a YouTuber someday when they’re more mature.