YouTube: Online Safety Impact and Influence on Children and Young People [Part 4 of 6]

Welcome to the fourth installment of our online safety series. In this article, we’ll delve into an activity that is arguably the most popular among children and young people – YouTube.

Despite not necessarily ranking first in terms of time spent, YouTube certainly takes the crown when it comes to enjoyment.

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The YouTube Phenomenon

Launched in April 2005 and acquired by Google in October 2006 for a staggering $1.6 billion, YouTube has become a colossal presence in our digital lives. An impressive 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and over a billion hours of content are watched daily.

The platform is also a lucrative advertising space, with ads first appearing in August 2007. This ad revenue has allowed countless individuals to earn a living by producing videos, with a small number raking in substantial incomes.

Popular Channels and Videos

The popularity of channels and videos on YouTube can often skyrocket, reaching hundreds of millions of views in a relatively short period.

“Gangnam Style,” a music video that was once the most popular, broke YouTube’s counter by exceeding a billion views.

However, it was dethroned in 2017 by “Despacito” by Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee, which remains the most-viewed video, boasting over 6.6 billion views as of January 2020.

When it comes to non-music content, ‘Huge egg surprise’ by Ryan’s toy review is the frontrunner, garnering 1.9 billion views. Ryan, an 8-year-old, earned $29 million in 2019, making him the highest earner on YouTube at the time.

YouTube’s Impact on Children and Young People

YouTube serves as a fascinating topic of conversation when engaging with children and young people. It is a platform where they find their favorite channels and influencers.

While mostly harmless, there have been occasions where alarming content, like animal abuse, has been brought to light. Unfortunately, such extreme content is not as rare as one might hope.

Influencers, aptly named for their role in shaping behaviour, are becoming increasingly influential. These individuals primarily use YouTube as a revenue-generating platform, producing content designed to be engaging and, unfortunately, increasingly extreme and shocking.

The Importance of Conversations

It’s vital to have open discussions with children about their YouTube consumption. These conversations offer insight into their perspectives and can help identify inappropriate or unethical content. YouTube does offer a Restricted Mode as a content filter, but it is far from perfect.

One of the best proactive measures is to educate young users on what to do if they encounter content that makes them uncomfortable. For younger children, this could involve telling an adult or a teacher, while older children could be taught to use the reporting features on YouTube.

If children have their own channels, it is also worth showing them how to disable comments to protect against potentially negative feedback.

A Deeper Understanding

Although this article provides a high-level overview of YouTube’s impact on children and young people, it’s important to remember that conversations can often reveal much more.

Encourage children to share their favorite YouTubers; knowing these influencers can help trace certain attitudes or behaviors. Also, inquire about their own channels and the type of content they produce and upload.

YouTube is the primary source for so-called “challenge” videos and, unfortunately, a breeding ground for fake news and potentially harmful fake challenges.

The platform can wield enormous influence over children and young people, which underscores the importance of maintaining open and ongoing dialogue about their activities on YouTube.

In our next installment, we will take a brief look at a topic that concerns many for a wide array of reasons – Children and young peoples use of Social Media

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