Mom Talk – Is My Child Ready for YouTube?

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I had an interesting question come from my son. The brief conversation went like this …

Mattison: Mom, do you know how to make videos on YouTube?

Mom: Sure, I put videos on there all the time. Why?

Mattison: Well, you see, there’s kids that make videos about Go-Go’s all the time and I want to make some about mine too.

Mom: hmmmmm

Mattison: Please, I already made one and I was kinda quiet but I really want to put it on YouTube.

Mom: Let me think about it and get back to you.

My problem is this, I’m an over protective parent when it comes to my kids using the internet. My son will be 10 in a few months and he has no email address, no Facebook account, no Twitter, not even Internet browsing privileges without me hovering over him. There are a lot of things on the Internet I’m not ready for him to be exposed to (ie Facebook bullying and Porn).

While YouTube sounds innocent enough, especially for a kid talking about plastic figures the size of my knuckle, my instinct still says no. YouTube commenters can be mean, even downright brutal sometimes and I don’t want him to feel bad about himself because the basement dwellers have nothing better to do than pick on people. But then, I think, I can’t hover over him forever and at some point he is going to need some internet exposure beyond what the school system offers.

I just don’t know. What would you do in the same situation?

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  1. Cat,

    Good question. It is funny. As much time as I spend on the computer and the Internet, the idea of my children doing the same, even if they are on “safe sites,” isn’t going to happen right now. It will be a while (teenager or older) before I’m comfortable w/them hanging out on either of those sites or other social networking places. A suggestion might be to instead create a Web site (or blog) for him where he could put all of his “stuff” on there. I bet many kids are on YouTube and Facebook, but how many kids (probably a lot) have their very own cooly designed Web site/blog?

  2. Well….ill be honest here. Charlotte pulls up youtube and types in justin beiber and cats singing and i let her watch the videos. I did talk to her that you cant watch things that are mean, things that hurt her feelings, things that have curse words in them… I cant “baby” here forever and its a big big techy world out there that if we dont teach them to navigate it responsibly, we could very well be teaching them to just navigate it blindly.

    Now she doesnt make videos on her own, and i monitor what she watches, but i dont hover over her every second.

    In your case, why not get him an account you both have access to and monitor the comments FOR him.
    Maybe you can be involved but at the same time give him some freedom.
    trisha

  3. Just Coupons says:

    I agree with what you said about the commenters can be mean and brutal. I think people with nothing else to do just troll you tube and insult people. Anytime we open up that part of the world to our kids, they are going to see things we would never approve of. It is a tough call. As for our family, our children (all teens) do not have facebook accounts. They don’t want the accounts and we don’t encourage it.

  4. Gabriel is the same age and this came up this school year. I told him once summer comes he can. He wants to do a blog and videos on youtube. Sometimes I allow him to watch videos, but he knows the rule that if it’s inappropriate he turns it off. Plus I threaten him anytime he gets on the computer that I have programs that will see every key he hits, every search, every msg. I say as long as you trust your son let him explore his creativity this summer. Maybe they could be “bloggy friends” ;)
    Kas

  5. You could let him upload his video but turn off comments so that no one could say hateful things. Just an idea.

  6. You can set it so that they can’t leave comments, or you could choose the setting which only allows those who have the url to view it? Would that work? Or there’s the completely private option to start with.

    Tough one though!

  7. I would say let him have one privilege at a time. Eventually he will get to the point where he just does things without permission (I just got through that stage at age 19). You could just turn off comments on his youtube channel. There are also tons of protections, such as WatchDog, etc. that will block those bad sites. I don’t use Facebook because I think it’s a time waster, but that’s my opinion.

  8. I’m the same way. My daughter is 10 and I don’t allow her to be online unless I know what she is going to be looking at/for and I am in the same room. She doesn’t have facebook or anything…

    Personally, I would say no. He’s young and has the rest of his life to do these sorts of things. In my opinion, once it starts there are other things they want to do and search for, look at, have, and ‘happen upon’.

    I was on youtube one day watching some funny baby clip with my daughter and there was a ‘funny looking baby’ image on the side for another video, when we clicked it it was CREEPY, SCARY and definitely NOT kid friendly! It even gave *me* nightmares! You never know what they will accidentally click and come across!

  9. Donna B. says:

    I dunno – 10 is pretty young. I don’t think I’d let him do it, but I’m overprotective too :)

    Is there a way to turn off comments?

  10. My son is 8 and wants to do some Beyblade videos. I personally have not let him do it yet but am considering it. If I do I will moderate the comments. I would never allow anyone to trash my son for the sake of free speech so if they have nothing nice to say it will be deleted. I guess I’m saying that I am planning to make an account for him that I will moderate. Who knows, he may do well, and get asked to put ads up lol.

  11. Sharon says:

    *Sigh* …..Ten is so young and such a tender age. I say let him hang onto his (mom-enforced) innocence a while longer. There’s always time for youtube. And, like it or not, the world of youtube is a very hrown up world in many, many ways.

  12. Facebook is more than just an entertainment/networking website for teenagers; parents are utilizing it as well. According to this parent blog, parents are using Facebook to learn more about their child’s friends and other parents.
    http://decoder.drugfree.org/2011/06/30/what-are-parents-doing-on-facebook/

  13. Great question and great to see so many excellent responses. Like you I am very strict and my kids won’t be joining any of these sites until they are 16. As a high school teacher who has seen the best and the worst of social networking sites I would strongly advise against allowing anyone under 13 from joining youtube, Facebook etc. There are so many studies confirming that they are just not mature enough to handle the harsh criticism and nastiness that inevitably comes with the territory. Good on you for being a good parent and taking control!

    Best wishes,
    Natasha.

  14. I struggle here also…I want to let go a little at a time, but I remember what i thought i knew at my daughters wi-fi- age and I believe there arent enough rules and regulations to stop what can be exposed to our children so we have to be on top of it…technology is like a test subject….can’t fix it until we see that its broken.