Common Sense Media says
Vast video site entertains and educates; iffy stuff abounds
What parents need to know
Parents needs to know that there are many videos on YouTube that may not be age-appropriate for their kids. The site is entirely user-generated and relies on its community to flag videos that violate YouTube's terms of service (mostly for sexual content, language, and hate speech). Plenty of age-inappropriate content can be surfaced by typing in the most innocent of search terms, so parents will want to monitor kids' use. Videos here run the gamut, from commercial to educational to music videos to homemade clips. Many kids love YouTube and rely on it as a way of keeping up with popular culture; videos go "viral" when viewers share the clips they like. One of the web's most popular destinations for people of all ages, YouTube now curates its videos, suggesting clips and new "channels" based on what you've watched previously. Kids can also discover new videos by seeing what's popular and trending throughout its immense collection. These new features can easily increase the amount of time your kids spend on the site. YouTube does offer parents the ability to filter out objectionable content and comments using Safety Mode. However, Safety Mode doesn't catch everything, and it's easy to disable.
Violence & scariness
Drinking, drugs & smoking
Privacy & Safety
What Kids Can Learn
Kids can find information and instruction about a variety of skills and build knowledge by seeking out videos related to their interests. Multiple videos with step-by-step instructions for almost any hobby or pursuit can be easily found. Want to build a skateboard? Tie a slip knot? Have a lemonade stand? It's all here. School-related advice and help is also available. Need to compute pi? Conjugate verbs Italian? It's here, too. YouTube also has tools for media creation so kids can explore video editing with their own uploaded videos. When used for informational purposes, the amount of information that can be found is astounding.
Whats it about?
Visitors can search -- and find -- virtually anything on this comprehensive video library site. Its content is entirely user-generated, so it's important to be attentive to each video's source. Plenty of age-inappropriate content can surface by typing in the most innocent of search terms, so parents will want to monitor kids' use. Videos here run the gamut, from commercial to educational to music videos to homemade clips, but for those seeking educational or instructional content, there's plenty to peruse and some helpful information to use.
Is it any good?
YOUTUBE.COM has easily secured its place in pop culture, primarily because it offers so much to discover -- and love -- in this comprehensive video library. Information. Education. Instruction. Entertainment. Distraction. Delight. Want step-by-step guided instructions for making dozens of different styles of friendship bracelets? Need to know how to create a unique Halloween costume? Want to show your child what the robot from Lost in Space looked like or check out the Earth's solar system? You'll find that and much, much more here, including the latest viral videos of that kid or cat that everyone's laughing about. The beauty of YouTube is being able to see so much in one place at any given time. That, however, also makes it difficult to know what your kids are finding and viewing when you're not supervising. Yes, YouTube provides an endless source of useful information. But like other Internet search engines, it is also rife with questionable content and inappropriate user comments that are easy for computer-savvy kids to find and view.
What makes YouTube such an innovative site is its usefulness as a creative outlet for kids and adults alike. Homemade movies -- from silly to serious and everything in between -- are commonplace, and innovative video creations are easy to find. It's not only a place to experience and enjoy the creativity of others, but also a place to exercise your own.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Preschool: From The Wiggles to Sesame Street, lots of preschool shows have dedicated channels on YouTube. To avoid finding videos that might be inappropriate, stick to shows you know or preview them before showing your preschooler. Learn about the effects of scary movies on kids and always sit with preschoolers while they use the computer.
Elementary school: Kids this age love to find silly stuff on YouTube -- especially with their friends -- but they can also stumble across age-inappropriate material. Learn more about managing their YouTube use. Also, reinforce the importance of Internet safety.
Middle school: As kids start developing their own interests, they may gravitate toward digital media creation -- a hobby you can feel good about nurturing, as long as they're smart about how they use YouTube.
High school: If teens are following the rules of good Internet behavior, you can allow them a certain level of independence in using YouTube. See why it's still important to remain vigilant about YouTube in the teen years.
This rating and review provided by Common Sense Media.
For more information, please visit www.commonsense.org