So, you may know the expression “going down the rabbit hole”. It means going into the unknown and perhaps having unique or disorienting experiences. It comes from Lewis Caroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”.
If your kid hasn’t already done this several times with YouTube, they soon will.
For example, imagine checking on your child. You’ve presumed their off playing with their toys or maybe their father. And instead you find them watching another kid on YouTube play with his toys – and perhaps his father.
Meet Ryan Toys Review. A 7-yr-old YouTube sensation with 18 million subscribers and an estimated net worth of $22 million.
Many of my younger cousins and nephews, and even the children I nanny for, are glued to their iPad or phone. Out of curiosity, I tend to peak at what they’re doing. I’d say about nine times out of ten they are viewing YouTube videos. Though I can’t lie and say I don’t enjoy watching YouTube videos also, I do find it mind blowing the amount of YouTube and screen time these kids will spend in a day.
And I know Ryan and his parent’s mean no harm by their successful YouTube Channel, it does get you thinking. Why would a child enjoy watching someone ELSE play with toys instead of just playing with toys THEMSELVES? I don’t have the perfect answer to that. Maybe it takes less energy. Maybe it’s about discovery and they already know about all of their own toys. I’m not sure.
But I did do a little research. Did you know kids between 0 and 5 only spend 50 minutes online but kids from 8 to 12 spend six hours a day? And it goes up to 9 hours a day for teenagers? (This comes from the website Common Sense Media .) Sure, this can be the time you get your household chores done, but in the end, are you allowing a YouTube obsession to get started in your kid?
And does it get better with age? Here’s a graph that shows over 25% of Americans visit YouTube several times a day. That’s a quarter of us!
So, what do you want to do about it?
This is completely up to you. But I think the first step is NOT deleting the app or banning the computer. I hope instead you consider simply limiting screen time. Plus there are parental controls in most of these apps, including YouTube. One thing you can do, for example, is turn off or pause the search history. This will stop new videos from magically appearing once the current video is done. That blocks the rabbit hole. Or makes it less inviting.
I also think it’s important to sit down with your child and actually observe what they’re watching on YouTube. Many times it will be fine, though you may want to look out for videos that are essentially commercials. We all know that kids are a prime target audience for marketers and there are far less restrictions about what they can do on YouTube than they can put on TV, for example.
You may also want to subscribe for your child some educational channels. No harm in that, right?
And finally, why not sit and talk with your child about what they find so fascinating about their favorite YouTube videos? Maybe there’s a chance you could duplicate that intrigue in some real world activity?
And wouldn’t that be cool. Instead of art imitating life, you could figure out to get life to imitate art. YouTube art that is.
Meanwhile, I’ve got to run now. Those kitten videos aren’t going to watch themselves!
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