Your Child Wants to Be a YouTuber April 15, 2018

My kids watch YouTube videos of funny vines about animals, video game hacks, original animations, and Youtubers (people who make videos) who play videos games for a living by posting their videos up to YouTube.

I can honestly say that in the beginning I didn’t understand it. Maybe it’s because I come from the generation where we watched cartoons after school and every Saturday morning. Maybe it’s because my husband and I voted for no more cable TV when we moved nearly 2 years ago, limiting our kiddos’ options are limited Netflix and, to our surprise, YouTube.

Either way, our kids have a passion for finding appropriate YouTube content and watching it. Yes, even the ones where the guys are playing video games for 45 minutes. If you don’t understand it either, welcome to the club.

With all the smart devices available now, from phones to tablets to computers, gaining access to the Internet is pretty much always within arm’s reach for our kids. Platforms like YouTube and Instagram have created apps where the watcher can now almost as easily become the content creator.

What do you say when you child comes to you and asks if s/he can start his own YouTube channel?

That day happened a lot sooner than I expected. Our son started asking for his own YouTube channel when he was 8. EIGHT! He was still learning basic arithmetic.

My answer was a solid ‘No. Nope. No way.’

For the next 12 months, I watched him work hard toward his goal of finishing the Kickstarter and participating in the building and delivering of his backers. He showed a work ethic and maturity that was enough to persuade his father and me to permit him to gently ease into creating his own content.

I’m not saying that every nine year old child is ready to create content for their own YouTube channel. With our son, he showed a genuine talent for it from the beginning. He came alive. It was certainly a learning experience for me as a parent to watch my son light up with enthusiasm and settle into the creator role with his channel.

You, the parents, need to use good judgment and determine if it’s right for your child. Just because our son was ready at 9 years old doesn’t mean that our daughter will be ready at the same age.

Even more important, I firmly believe you need to be involved on all levels of the content creation process. Children aren’t emotionally ready to deal with some of the things that can leap off the page through feedback or a lack of feedback. The Internet is not school recess where your kiddo can fall down and scrape a knee or bump an elbow and a compress and Band-Aid will fix the damage.

Be there to help set boundaries for your child. Guide and instruct him or her. Monitor the comments to make sure that none of their subs (subscribers) are posers (folks posing as something they are not – like an adult as a child) or trolls (a person who’s sole existence thrives on creating havoc and negativity).

As adults we have a better sense of discernment and a willingness to ‘ban and block’ the folks that aren’t adding anything positive to the conversation. Just like the recess monitor, be available.

Having a channel with your child can be an incredible bonding experience. It’s a time commitment similar to any other extracurricular activity. It can become an expensive hobby, too. The upside is that as you develop the channel, both of you can learn new skills – Presentation, editing, branding, content ideas, optimal studio set up, just to name a few. 

And for those reading this blog thinking that I’m suggesting you need to be a helicopter parent, in a way, you do. You wouldn’t allow your kids to jump into a trapeze act at the circus without some training and a safety harness and net, would you? I suspect not.

The YouTube Terms of Service state a person must be at least 13 years old to have a channel that is not attached to a parent’s account. If you and your child are ready to start creating content, then go for it. If your teenager wants to create their own independent channel, talk to them. Understand their goals with content creation. Ask questions. Be available. Listen. Show support by watching their channel.

Time to get creating!