Friday, August 21, 2009

YouTube and Our Kids

YouTube and Our Kids - it’s time to take action

by Mary Heston

The Headlines from Wired Moms today:
YouTube video inspires kids to set friend on fire 
Moms we need your help. Let us know when you see videos that concern you.

YouTube is actually a great site. My boys have learned more from tutorials on YouTube than almost anywhere else. My one son got some great ideas for a winning Pinewood Derby car.

For example: you can subscribe to Parry Aftab's videos on YouTube and get all the latest uploads includeing the TeenAngel panel at the UN earlier this year.

There is also a dark side to YouTube and as Moms, as Wired Moms, we can band together and make a difference for our kids. It’s time to take action.

Even if we do Everything right - put the computer in our living rooms, monitor our childs use, limit their Internet time, supervise and instruct - our children will still be exposed to content that we may not be thrilled about ( or even terrified by ).

Our kids are seeing these things at friends homes on their computers, they can get online via their handheld devices ( Ipod touch, cell phones, PS3 and other handheld game systems ), and they can even go to their local libraries. Not every filtering system can keep out every objectionable site.
So, what do we do?

The first thing to do is not to over react and ban all technology from our children so that they won’t be exposed to some bad stuff. They need to know how to responsibly use technology. It is a part of their lives now.

We need to band together as Wired Moms and help our kids navigate their way through these new technologies.

Many of the same rules that we grew up with still apply:
Don’t talk to strangers
Don’t go out at night alone
Be home by a certain time - and call home if you’re going to be late
Look both ways before you cross the street

These rules are the same, they just have a slightly different point of reference when applied to life in cyberspace.

We can help our kids make mature decisions even if we don’t fully understand all of the technologies. Many parents still think a cellphone is used to make calls - but to kids it is a web browser, a camera, an IM tool, an MP3 player and, by the way, you can call your folks on this thing too.

YouTube has some great videos that can help our kids learn and connect with the world. There are also bad videos out there.  Unlike movies there is no rating system to help guide parents through this maze.  It is our job to pay attention to the videos our kids are viewing.

Follow us on twitter and join the discussion on Facebook. The more we talk to each other about this, and the more informed we become, the safer our kids will be.