Should I let my child set up a YouTube account? - Helen Westerman

In this week’s column, I would like to offer some advice to a question that many parents ask us when it comes to their child’s online safety: “Should I let my child set up a YouTube account?”

Wednesday, 21st July 2021, 11:45 am
Photo by MARTIN BUREAU/AFP via Getty Images

Since its creation in 2005, YouTube has gone onto become the second most visited website worldwide, it is also the second most used social media platform after Facebook With over 500 hours of video uploaded every minute and more than a billion hours of video viewed every day the scale of content is enormous. We know that YouTube is very popular with children and young people, who watch videos on YouTube for various reasons, such as watching their favourite gamers (over 100 billion hours of gaming videos were watched on YouTube in 2020), learning about their hobbies, finding how-to videos and much more.

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It’s important to remember that not all content on YouTube is suitable for children and young people to see. Net Aware, our website co created with O2, has drawn together lots of advice for parents. Please do give it a read but I would suggest it is also important to talk with your child about the reasons for wanting to set up their own account. Many children believe you can make lots of money by sharing videos, but whilst this is possible it is the exception rather than the ‘norm’ and it can put them under significant pressure. What do they want to achieve? What do they want to share? This can be a great time to talk about what is appropriate to share and what isn’t. When agreeing rules and time boundaries, why not consider a family agreement, a template of which can be found on Net Aware. This allows your child to understand your expectations which can be reviewed when you think you need to. This could include not sharing personal and private information, whether they are allowed to show their face in the videos and suitable clothing (e.g. no clothing that might identify the school they go to).

Making videos can be a great way of learning new digital skills, as well as promoting creativity and critical thinking but there are some risks that you should be aware of, such as oversharing or disinhibition. This is when hidden behind a screen it can be easy to say or do things that you wouldn’t do offline. They might feel pressure too, to create more videos or different content to keep up with trends which adults or influencers are doing. So please do keep the conversation going with your child and if you see that they are feeling under pressure, find out why and talk to them about this. And remember you can find more information at www.net-aware.org.uk.