YouTube is an enormous resource, there is no question about it. The Google-owned company is growing at a rapid pace and has become one of those content giants we cannot ignore. In fact, YouTube published a video saying that every second, 1 hour of video is being uploaded to YouTube. In a rather humorous way, they have released a video about it with some other interesting metrics. This unimaginable figure means that a decade of videos is being uploaded every day!
It takes no genius to understand that with so many videos, no online company/service as huge as it might be, can adequately filter or correctly catalogue the vast amount of content being uploaded.
YouTube is much like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde — it has its good and bad sides. This tool can be extremely useful and “YouTube” is the name that comes to mind as THE key player in the democratization of videos. However, upon entering the YouTube ‘twilight zone', one may discover bad (very bad) things, which are exposed to all of us… including our kids.
In this twilight zone, it's easy to find videos that teach kids how to develop anorexic disorders, how to cut themselves and hide it from adults, and even how to commit suicide.
5 EASY STEPS TO YOUTUBE SAFETY
Parents: there is no golden formula, but here are 4 easy steps you can take to help keep your children safe on YouTube:
#1. Get savvy: There is no way around this. Your first step is to go to YouTube and see for yourself. Open an account, create your favorite list, and see how easy it is to search for videos. Once you do that, you are in a better position to have a far more open and informed discussion with your children. Position yourself in their eyes as someone “in the know”.
#2. Use the Safety Mode: At the bottom of every YouTube page, you can check a “Safety Mode” box that filters your search results. When Safety Mode is on, you’ll get fewer inappropriate results when you search for videos. Again, please remember that this feature, though effective, is not 100% accurate and does not guarantee that all inappropriate material will be filtered out.
#3. Use Privacy Settings: YouTube allows videos to be shared with anyone or a limited audience of your choosing. If your child is just learning to use YouTube, you may wish to have all videos categorized as “unlisted” or even “private”. The “private” setting allows you to select the people who can view the video, while “unlisted” videos can be viewed by anyone who has the URL (web address). These options can be found on each individual video's “edit” screen.
#4. Pay attention: What would you do if a bully was harassing your kids? You'd take action to stop the harassment, right? Well, it's the same thing here — only this potential bully is bigger, more aggressive and comes straight into your home. Make sure your kids know online safety rules. Work with them to help protect their identities. Tell them to pay attention when uploading videos to protect their privacy. I’m all about self-expression, but believe it's important to remind them that not-too-long from now when they're interviewing for a job, the video they uploaded will likely appear during their potential employer's background checking process. A terrific recent example of how quickly images can go “viral” involved a 5th grade teacher who wanted to demonstrate that very concept to her students… and proving her point, her image received tens of thousands of shares and over 4 million likes.
#5. Communicate: Personal safety is something we all need to be careful about in all venues of life, and in this era where children are ‘digital natives', we have a responsibility to start teaching online safety while they are young. It’s not just one conversation, it’s a continuous dialog that adapts to the rapid changes we are experiencing today.
Working WITH your children to keep them safe on YouTube and other social media venues will do nothing but benefit them in the long run. It's time well spent.
Tiffany Stelman is the co-founder and CEO of Totlol. Totlol provides a platform for kids to watch their favorite videos online where all videos are filtered and moderated by a community of parents, ensuring that inappropriate content is blocked. With the help of parents, Totlol delivers age-appropriate videos in a child-friendly environment. Learn more about keeping children safe online by visiting Totlol's Blog at www.blog.totlol.com.
Working to improve the world one child at a time, Ginger Kadlec has made it her life mission to raise awareness of the world-wide epidemic of child abuse. An impassioned child advocate, trainer, speaker and child forensic interviewer, Ginger can be contacted via her website “Ginger Kadlec: 4UrKids™” at www.gingerkadlec.com or find her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gingergkadlec.
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