A Parents' Guide to Online Videos


Watching videos together can bring parents and kids closer. Many clips feature the pure silliness beloved by 6- to 14-year-olds. Others are clever, poignant or thought-provoking.

If your kids have discovered sites such as YouTube, ask to see their favorite clips. Discussing these mini-movies with your kids is fun and helps them develop critical judgment.

Watching Videos

Talk about videos that are off limits before letting kids browse video sites alone. YouTube forbids videos that include “nudity, graphic violence or hate.” Even without nudity, some videos are too adult for kids. YouTube identifies these videos by asking viewers to confirm they are 18. Be sure your child knows not to go beyond such barriers.

Help your child distinguish between genuine humor and sadistic pranks. Online videos may include stunts that are, at best, stupid and, at worst, cruel or even criminal.

Posting Videos

Although shooting videos can be a creative outlet for adolescents, keep tight control over what’s posted. Kids 13 and younger should make movies only to be shared with friends and family. Older kids should get permission before posting a video online. Ask these questions before giving your okay.

  • Does the video contain anything illegal or dangerous? Real life violence is a crime, not entertainment. Police have begun to monitor online videos for illegal activities, including underage drinking.
  • Does the video identify you? Check for revealing details such as a wide shot of your home, a curb address, a license plate or a T-shirt with the logo of your child’s school.
  • Does the video violate anyone’s privacy? Your child should get permission from people in his video, especially if it captures something that is potentially embarrassing.
  • Is your child prepared for comments? Feedback is part of online video sites’ appeal. But comments can be crass or cruel. Kids who don’t have a thick skin may want to look for a more supportive venue than YouTube. For example, Kidstube.com seeks “encouraging, respectful comments” and kicks out people who violate the rules.
  • Are you willing to give up ownership? YouTube and other video sites have rights to republish contributors’ videos, sometimes for years. Help kids imagine themselves with a job, a family and even political ambitions. Will this video still seem like a good idea? Protect your kids now and they could be grateful when they get a little older.

Carolyn Jabs is a former contributing editor of Family PC magazine and mother to three computer savvy kids.


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