I don’t let my kids watch YouTube.
I used to.
Once upon a time I had a three-year-old who liked to let herself out the front door and go on grand adventures down the street, until her panicked mom came running to find her. Those “baby proofing” door handles didn’t cut it, and I needed to keep her occupied so I could shower or wash the dishes. Enter YouTube.
I found a bunch of children’s music videos that I thought were cute, so I pulled them up whenever I needed turn my back for a few minutes. It didn’t take her very long to figure out how to navigate to other videos, and before I knew it “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” had turned into overly-hyper people playing Roblox.
I let it be for awhile. It wasn’t until the kids started finding Elsa x Spiderman videos that I started to feel uncomfortable, especially the ones that featured “pregnant Elsa.” Something about them really didn’t sit well with me, so I stepped in and put an end to it. I mandated that the kids were only allowed to watch YouTube as long as I was there with them, and they had to get my permission before they clicked on a video.
Shortly afterwards, I learned that a number of those Elsa x Spiderman videos were being used to imitate porn and other questionable activities. That further solidified my decision to never let them watch anything unsupervised. (See Elsagate)
Thankfully, by this point my daughter had stopped letting herself out of the house, so that little problem had become a non-issue and I could shower in peace.
However, the more I watched YouTube with them, the more intense my anxiety about it grew. To top it off, the kids were turning into materialistic little snots, and I was growing tired of constantly explaining to them why we were never going to buy them any of the toys they saw on YouTube. I felt that I was becoming a paranoid nervous wreck, so I eventually declared that the kids were only allowed to watch one channel.
As time went by, I realized that the children were much better behaved when they didn’t spend any time at all on YouTube. They slept better, fought less, and listened more. My husband and I decided to block YouTube entirely on our main computer, and our children settled down into manageable little monsters instead of psychotic tyrants.
I’m a crazy strict mom amongst my peers for it, but that decision has improved our lives. I strongly believe that it would benefit most families if they “unplugged” more and started interacting with each other and the real world instead of being constantly glued to the Internet. We need to teach our children how to fully engage with life, instead of dealing with parenting issues the easy way. I had to learn that through experience, but I’m glad I figured it out.