It’s the app where you can learn to play guitar, watch funny viral videos, and perhaps accidentally see something totally inappropriate. The YouTube app holds the same massive video library as YouTube.com. Users add new videos each day, at an astonishing rate, making it challenging to keep unsuitable content away from kids.
It’s a fantastic source of education and entertainment, but the Smart Social team wants parents to know the potential for dangerous content is also limitless on the YouTube app.
YouTube by the Numbers:
- People spend 1 billion hours each day watching videos on YouTube (website and app)
- Users upload 500 hours of video every single minute
- Over a billion people listen to music on YouTube every month
- Source: YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki in a 2019 CBS New Interview
Who is watching YouTube?
- 73% of adults
- 90% of 18 to 24 year olds
- 85% of teens ages 13 to 17
- 81% of all parents with children age 11 or younger say they let their kids watch
- Source: 2018 Pew Research Center Study
YouTube is now the #1 online platform for teens
- 85% of teens now use YouTube
- 32% of teens use YouTube more often than any other app
- Source: 2018 Pew Research Center Study
What is the YouTube app?
- The YouTube app lets users watch and listen to YouTube videos
- Google owns YouTube and claims YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine (Google is #1)
- Content on the app ranges from how-to videos to educational kids videos to mature videos that could include profanity and violence
- According to YouTube’s Terms of Service, users must be at least 13 years old
- If users are under 18, the Terms of Service say “you represent that you have your parent or guardian’s permission to use the Service”
- YouTube also designed a different app called YouTube Kids – that is meant to be a safe online space for children
- When users log into the YouTube app they get access to channel subscriptions, friends’ activity, and recommendations
YouTube in the News:
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki doesn’t allow her children to browse videos on the app, unless they’re using a version that’s meant for kids… ‘I allow my younger kids to use YouTube Kids, but I limit the amount of time that they’re on it… I think too much of anything is not a good thing,’ [she said].Source: CNBC
Big brands are pulling their ads off YouTube over concerns that potential sexual predators are gathering in the comment sections of videos featuring children…. communicating with each other in the comments and trading links to illegal pornographySource: NPR
YouTube announced massive changes to how it treats kids videos, as the US Federal Trade Commission hit Google with new rules and a record $170 million penalty to settle a probe into the privacy of children’s data on giant video site. It’s the largest penalty ever levied for violations of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act, or COPPA.Source: CNET
Jason said his friend sprayed him with nail polish remover and set him on fire… he suffered second-degree burns on his chin, chest and stomach.Source: WDIV-TV
Why should parents care?
- Students could unintentionally watch inappropriate or dangerous videos because content is automatically suggested
- YouTube is user-generated and relies on users to flag videos that violate YouTube’s terms of service (for things like violence, nudity, encouraging danger, hate speech, etc.)
- Students can easily get addicted to watching YouTube videos because there is so much content offered
- Students can waste a lot of time in the YouTube app and could lose interest in offline activities
- There are in-app purchases and monthly memberships
What can parents do?
- Turn on the Safety Mode in the YouTube app
- Don’t rely on the filters. Parents must still closely monitor what tweens and teens are doing in the YouTube app
- Turn off the autoplay feature (it is a default setting)
- Set a daily or weekly time limit for the YouTube app
- You can set up “take a break” reminders
- Encourage your student to use YouTube in a positive way by watching educational content and learning new skills
- Set up a shared family Google account
- Log in to the YouTube app from the shared account so you can see your student’s video history
- Subscribe to safe channels your children would like, so they get notifications to watch those channels instead of searching for new ones
- If your student has his or her own YouTube Channel:
- Watch every video they make BEFORE they upload it
- Limit who can view their videos by setting them to Private or Unlisted
- Disable the comments on their videos to prevent negative comments and cyberbullying
The YouTube app can give students a platform to learn and to Shine Online™ by showcasing their talent. But it can also give kids a window to watch all kinds of content- good and bad – created by all sorts of people.
If you plan to let your teen or tween use the YouTube app to watch or share videos, Smart Social strongly suggests that you remind yourself to closely monitor exactly what they are doing on the app because all kinds of content can slip through the filters.