Does your child pay more attention to the next YouTube video coming out than the words coming out of your moth? Instead of shrugging off YouTube as dumb cat videos, or worrying about the dangers, try engaging with your child about the YouTube they watch. Here are some of our best tips:
- Ask your child to share the videos they watch. Referring to YouTube in a negative way or as a waste of time is more likely to cause your child to disengage. Have you seen the familiar headphones on, turned off to the world posture? Instead, encourage your child to share their favorite videos with the rest of the family or watch together. Many popular streaming devices, such as the Roku, Apple TV, or Amazon fire stick have YouTube apps to watch on the big screen.
- Get your own YouTube account. If you have a Google or Gmail account, you already have one! Simply log onto YouTube, and your icon should be in the upper-right corner. With billions of videos on YouTube, there is bound to be something for everyone. There are plenty of tutorials for next time you are trying to fix something or try a new recipe. All of the popular TV networks also have YouTube channels. You may even find some bonus content from your favorite shows. Having your own YouTube account and spending some time on it will help you better understand why your child is fascinated with the site.
- Familiarize yourself with your child’s favorite You tuber’s release schedule and respect their time to watch the new episodes. Active YouTuber’s stick to a release schedule, posting videos once or multiple times a week at the same time, just like a network might air your favorite TV show at a certain time. Your child will want to watch the new video right away in order to engage with their friends or other fans of the video in the comment section.
- Invest some time in an educational YouTube Channel. When you ask to share a cool YouTube video with your child, they will be much more interested in watching it, than simply asking them to watch something “educational” (or “boring” in kid-speak). Many popular YouTube channels have made educational content interesting in the same style of your child’s favorite YouTubers. There may even be some crossover videos with subjects your child is studying in school. Some family-friendly educational and entertaining channels include: SciShow, Crash Course, Mental Floss, TED-ed, The Art Assignment, Numberphile, and Khan Academy. You might even learn something yourself!
- Set the homepage of your child’s YouTube channel to include “Recent Activity,” and do the same with yours. This way, you can easily see the videos your child has been watching, liking, and commenting on (and they can do the same for you). To do this, have your child go to their channel homepage. Scroll down to the bottom of the page and click on the button “Add a section.” There, you can add a section for “liked videos” and “recent activity.” This will create a sense of accountability for both you and your child, and make it feel more like a social network than parental control.
- Have no idea how YouTube works? There is no need to be in the dark. If your child watches even a little bit of YouTube, they probably know how to expertly navigate the site. Sit down with them for 20 minutes and have them show you things like how to subscribe to a channel, how to like or comment on a video, or how to find new and interesting videos. Give them a chance to show off their knowledge and expertise.
- Consider making a YouTube con (short for conference) a part of your family vacation. Imagine if you were actually excited to go to your work conference, so much so, that you actually dreamed of attending one. Many hard-core YouTube fans dream of attending VidCon, Playlist Live, MineCon, StreamCon, Buffer Festival, or BeautyCon and meeting famous YouTubers. Cons also give kids a chance to meet other kids as passionate about YouTube and network, if they have their own channel. VidCon is held in Anaheim, CA and Playlist is often in Orlando, FL (Disney, anyone?). It is easy to create a family vacation with a large number of Cons around the U.S. each year.
Does your child want to become a YouTuber? Stay tuned for the next part of this series, where we’ll talk about how to get involved in your child’s YouTube channel. Big thanks to Help! My Kid Wants to be a YouTuber by Michael Buckley and Jesse Malhorta.
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