T&TO: Why is YouTube so popular among children and preteens?
Hendrickson: I think one of the reasons that YouTube is so popular is that it has an unlimited number of videos to satisfy your children’s interests, whatever they may be. Not only can you sit and watch Sesame Street or Baby Einstein together but you can explore the world by virtually travelling to places like the San Diego Zoo or learning about craft ideas on a channel like Handmade Modern.
Happily, YouTube can also help out when kids ask those tricky questions – like, “Hey Mom, what sound does a koala make?” YouTube thankfully has thousands of clips of koalas, and some of those koalas make their signature sound – which happens to be a low grunt. Question answered!
YouTube is also a great way to easily keep record of your child growing up. Scrapbooks are so last century! Unlike videotapes and files on your computers, once you upload your videos to YouTube, you will never have to worry about misplacing the original. Some people want to keep their family videos private, and YouTube makes this very easy: Any uploaded video can be set to either ‘Private’ which means that only certain users can view it, or to ‘Unlisted’ so that only friends and family with the link can view the video. In either case, no one can find your video through a YouTube search, so you have control over who is viewing your videos
T&TO: What tools and/or guidelines does YouTube provide to help parents and preteens enjoy the site together?
Hendrickson: We have a Family Safety Center, a one-stop shop that provides step-by-step instructions for using safety tools built into Google products and other best practices for families to consider. We also have a Curriculum channel, where we post videos about digital citizenship and staying safe online.
T&TO: Some parents believe YouTube offers too much content that’s inappropriate for children. Your thoughts on that?
Hendrickson: YouTube is not a site for under 13s, but just like a library: it’s a repository of content from a really wide range of sources and it’s designed to be experienced with an adult.
That said, there are tons of educational resources just waiting to be shared. Whether it’s used for explaining Newton’s laws of motion through a Rube Goldberg machine or learning more about the world’s population, there’s so much material which is fascinating to children and adults alike.
We also work with child safety organizations’ efforts to educate Internet users through new media, including YouTube. YouTube has partnered with many organizations in multiple countries and languages who have their own channels and whose expertise we’ve incorporated into our help resources and safety tips. Some examples are Beat Bullying, Childnet, eEnfance, Save the Children, ICMEC, Ad Council and others.