YouTube

What It Is:
YouTube is a video sharing website that pioneered easily viewable streaming video. Because of its ubiquity and its low barrier of usage, YouTube has become the go-to site on the web for all things video-related. In addition to viewing videos, users can also make comments about them, creating a semi-social space for interaction as well.

What It Does:
YouTube works well as a means of both viewing videos and uploading them. The site is replete with just about every type of video imaginable, from movie clips to music videos to home videos of crazy stunts to how-to videos on every possible topic to just about anything else that fits within the site’s generous content restrictions.

YouTube also allows viewers to use the site anonymously or through an account they create. When you use the site logged in to your account, YouTube gathers your viewing history and recommends videos based on what it perceives as your preferences.

Would My Child Want It?:
YouTube is often the default site to check for anything video-related. If one hears about a video in casual conversation, it is often assumed this video can be found on YouTube. If your child has been around an internet connection, there is a very good chance they’ve already watched something on YouTube.

Where Can It Be Used?:
YouTube is primarily accessed through its internet portal at YouTube.com, but there are also apps for mobile platforms.

What Should I Watch Out For?:
As far as video content itself goes, YouTube does a fairly good job restricting the worst visual content. Outright pornography is banned, as are most forms of nudity.
Violence and language are still pretty “anything goes,” however, and sexually suggestive material is still allowed.
It is pretty commonly understood that the comments sections of any given YouTube video are filled with explicit language, slurs, and multiple degrees of pointlessness.
YouTube’s algorithm suggests “related videos” to the user that are often inappropriate, sometimes even with screenshots that are salacious in nature. This is intentional on the part of the uploader so as to draw the attention – and then the subsequent click-through – of the curious viewer.
YouTube often places advertisements in front of videos, and many times these advertisements have nothing to do with the video you intend to watch, yet contain sexually suggestive or potentially violent material.

What Are The Positives?:
YouTube allows for convenient access to innocent or helpful videos that can entertain us or even enlighten us
Some users on YouTube (like Khan Academy, for example) provide educational opportunities to those who wouldn’t be faced with them ordinarily.
Easy to share one’s own videos with others, either publicly or with private links that can only be used by those who have that specific link.

What Are The Negatives?:
It is very easy for YouTube to become a hole through which productivity falls.
Comments are not moderated and can contain links to spam or illicit content.
It is extremely easy to view videos that are inappropriate for children, and sometimes those videos are even suggested by YouTube.
Rampant advertising, often for products not appropriate for children.

What We Think:
YouTube is pretty much inescapable, and there’s a lot to it that can be either beneficial or harmless. However, because of the potential for exposure to sensitive, crude, or crass material in the comments and in YouTube’s suggested videos, we recommend that you monitor your children’s activity on YouTube, even to the point of watching alongside them.

It’s also worth noting that YouTube’s recommendations based on your viewing history can be a double-edged sword, especially when it comes to your kids. If you view wholesome content, then you’re more likely to receive wholesome recommendations; if you view unwholesome content, then you – and your kids who use your account – are more like to receive unwholesome recommendations.