Should You Let Your Child Have Their Own YouTube Channel?
Social media is a stage. And every parent loves to watch their child perform. It's just normal that we want our kids to show what they can do best. When we have relatives or friends over, we might ask them to show their art, or sing a song, or share a poem they learned in school. Is that the same as letting them create a YouTube channel?
Although the motivations may be the same, the impact is very different. Here's what happens if your child has their own YouTube Channel....
They become 24/7 performers: Learning to be performers is great, but what happens when your entire life is a performance? What happens when every game they play is a performance, every place they go to is all about performing and sharing? You start living less and performing more. Now, they are going to do that anyway when they hit their teens, but are you sure you want them to start right now? What about learning to be friends and kind and loving when no one is looking. What about learning to do things just because you love them, and not to show yourself to be happy? I'm concerned that if children start performing all the time when they are so young, they may not get a chance to learn to be happy and content when there is no audience.
The world is watching them: When your friends come over, and your child performs- you have control of who's watching them, what they say, and you trust that even if they take a picture or a video- they will not misuse it. This is not true of the online world. Strangers, criminals, and pedophiles have access to YouTube channels. They can misuse content from it, or they can post mean comments. Dangerous people can even try to meet your child and hurt them. The more followers your child has, the more likelihood that dangerous people are also following them.
They can feel like they are an expert even when they are not: All humans have a tendency to have pride, and our kids too. But when they put a video of themselves singing and they get a 100 likes, they may think they are an exceptional singer. That may not be true at all. It's great that they feel appreciated, but it can become harmful when they start to feel that they know-it-all because they are a YouTube influencer or celebrity. They may feel like they know everything there is to know about that topic, or skill, and not work towards growing their skills. They start focusing their time on creating content instead of growing in the skill itself.
So is it a hard no? I don't think we can live in a bubble and protect our kids from social media forever. And when our kids show the desire to create their own videos and perform, I think we must use our wisdom as parents and see what is best for them. You may feel that your child is too young to be performing, or that you want them to focus on their friendships and school for now. That is fine.
But in case you feel like your child is very talented in an area, and you need to give them a chance to perform, here are some suggestions:
- Avoid letting kids under 13 have their own YouTube channel. If you want to share their videos, use your own social media platforms like Facebook, or Whatsapp where you are connected to people that you know. If you want to create a YouTube channel, or use any other platform where their videos will be open to the public- try your best to protect personal info like their name and location. You can give your child a screen name and create a channel name that does not have their name on it.
- Make sure that your child learns to work hard on the content that they are producing. Ask them to learn, research, practice, do retakes and work on producing high-quality content. Even if they produce only one video in a week, or even in a month- that's fine. Make sure they learn the discipline of producing good content.
- Connect with mentors (adults) who are skilled in the area that your child is talented in. Help your child get guidance on how they can grow in their skills, what they can learn, and what mistakes they can avoid. Get involved in the process and learn together with your child. Help arrange courses, coaching, classes to help them learn. Use the motivation to create a sharable video as an opportunity for your child to grow in specific skills.
- Turn off comments and monitor all interactions. Even if your child's videos are being posted on a YouTube channel, make sure that your child can't directly connect with their followers. Turning off comments helps avoid a lot of cyberbullying, and other unpleasant activity online. Manage the channel for them even if they know how to do it, so that you know that your child is safe online. Your child's safety is most important always.
Find ways for your child to perform in front of trusted people that love and will appreciate them. Create videos and share them on family groups. Plan talent nights for kids of friends to perform. Let's provide every opportunity for our child to grow in their gifts and talents. But let's do that wisely and in a way that's appropriate for their age.
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