By Jennifer Geller, Savvy Cyber Kids Contributor
Odds are your kid is enthusiastically following a YouTube sensation, maybe even one that is closer to their age than yours. These vloggers film themselves playing multiplayer games like Minecraft or Roblox, reviewing toys, random products or just acting silly to attract attention and a following.
Do you ever wonder what your kids like about their favorite channels? Ask them! Mine tell me that they enjoy the entertaining information they get about the very things they are interested in — from games to stunts and to beauty tutorials. I can appreciate this but there are some things about some of the channels they have shown me that irk me: the humor and tone of the dialogue can go a little south for my taste; the YouTube advertisements are frequently not kid-friendly; and the “sponsored” product placements are not easily recognizable as advertisements, all downsides of my kids following a YouTube channel.
If your child watches a YouTube channel, these are worthwhile things to talk about with him or her. This is a GREAT opportunity to get involved in your child’s digital life. Ask your kids who they watch on YouTube and what they like about them.
The thing that really gets my kid’s attention is that a select few have millions of viewers and make money, in some case, very, very good money. The young vloggers listed below make up a sizable portion of the 2017 YouTube’s most-subscribed-to and most viewed list.
- Ryan’s Toy Reviews
- Evan Tube HD
- Kid President
- Kids React and Teens React
- Jacob Sartorius
- Mark Thomas
- Brooklyn and Bailey
- Matty B Raps
- Awesomeness TV
- Bretman Rock
- Jay Versace
Pretty soon, your kid—just like mine—may ask to start their own YouTube channel, with the hopes of making it big. What should you say?
- If your child is thinking they want their own channel, talk about how these channels might be different from one another. There are young vloggers who manage their channels independently. But in most cases, these channels are heavily supported by parents if not a team of professionals. To be clear, according to YouTube’s terms of service, users must be at least 13 to run a channel. So, no child under 13 is managing a channel without parent participation or management.
- Dive a little deeper with your child and see what you can learn together about the management of their favorite channels. Is the vlogger promoting on various platforms (Instagram, Musical.ly, Snapchat and Twitter)? How much day-to-day work do these success stories require? Is your child up for that? Are you?
- Talk about what kind of family support would be necessary have a public channel that is seeking public viewership and how realistic that is for your family. As a digital parent, you would need to closely monitor all of the content coming out of the channel, making sure it was appropriate AND safe to share with a public audience.
- Talk to your child how their channel would manage negative comments and the like. Would you delete them, respond to them or just ignore them? While you can decide to turn off commenting, you will not get nearly as many followers and cannot get internet famous with commenting turned off. Interaction is a key part of successful YouTube channels.
- Brainstorm the name of your child’s channel and use this exercise as an opportunity to talk about privacy. A name for the channel is needed for search functionalities and it needs to be something fun but not a name that gives away your child’s personal information like their full name or location. You can use a first name if parents are involved in the channel but it’s even better to use you’re an alternate or secret identity, your gaming or online name, that does not reveal personal information about you.
- Discuss what the content of the channel would be and how to frame it sharply enough that your child would not veer into other topics that are not in line with your expectations and values. Talk about what information is too personal to share in this venue, including wearing clothing that could identify your child by school or sports team participation.
- Talk to your child about the need for privacy on a public YouTube channel. You need to make sure public YouTube channels are registered with a NEW gmail account—one the parent has access to—that is not your or your child’s personal account. If someone hacked into this account, you need to be sure that your kid could not be identified from it.
If you—or your child—is less interested in hosting their own public channel after this ‘Tech Talk’ (fingers crossed), remember, they can always have a channel that is not public, where only their invited friends and family can see the content. No chance of getting internet famous and making oodles of cash, but as a digital parent, you can be less involved and be assured that your child is safe.
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