My kids are exploring youtube
May 25, 2021 10:32 AM   Subscribe

10 year old and 7 year old have started choosing what to watch on youtube. So far, that means a lot of crappy Miraculous fan videos and weird (though not creepy) tik tok. I'm surprisingly bummed by how terrible the stuff is. Please reassure me that crappy storytelling is fine?

I know I'm a bit of a snob when it comes to storytelling. One of my favourite things is discussing plots with my kids, and we've had a lot of fun talking about everything that happens in their favourite shows, like Miraculous, MLP, and Pokemon.

Seriously, most of the fan videos are just crappy! But that's okay, right? I mean, part of forming taste is also discovering what else is out there and getting to make your own choices? (I worry they're inhaling garbage and maybe it's mucking up their brains?)

(I'm not worried about them discovering gross stuff. They watch things in the living room and I can hear all of it. Unfortunately.)

(Bonus points if you can recommend youtube channels with short-ish clips they might enjoy.)
posted by Omnomnom to Grab Bag (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
My kids mostly like ok stuff, though some is a bit worse than others (like sssniperwolf doing funny videos and pop culture commentary is worse than Project Zorgo (silly hacker videos). But the recommended content is where you have to watch out, especially as they get older - as lots is not age appropriate and is terrible or racist.

My 7 year old watches lots of My Little Pony, she's still into little kid stuff, and I'm surprised by what she has found on youtube - currently watching Mr Peabody and Sherman episodes.

My 10 year old likes the sssniperwolf, Sims4 build videos, and loves Project Zorgo.

I actually think a lot of it is pretty well made - like Baby Alive Lilly and Mommy and 'Baby Alive Lucy drives the Cozy Coupe' is still regularly referenced in my household - it's pretty funny. But lots of it is also terrible.

I will say that Apple has finally created really good parental controls, so we just cut YouTube off at like 7:00 so they don't spend all day watching videos.
posted by The_Vegetables at 10:47 AM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Do you have a login for Youtube? Or are they simply looking at Youtube without that level of user data? The reason I mention is that I use a login to keep on eye on what the kid watches and talk to him about things that I think are problematic. He mostly watches video game guys (mostly Minecraft) or STEM themed channels so I make sure he's not watching any of the more toxic channels.
posted by Ashwagandha at 10:55 AM on May 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

I would trust your kids to find the content they like and let them figure out how to navigate the internet. My kids are only slightly older and honestly, I could not prescribe their watchlist to them if I tried! They find all kinds of weird and/or cool and/or interesting and/or beyond boring (imo) stuff that they're into all the time, things I could never dream of finding.

What I do is keep communication open. I grit my teeth and act like I'm SUPER interested in their videos, so that they find it is a rewarding experience to share with me whatever they're watching. If they stop talking to me, I might have to keep tabs on their viewing history to make sure they're not getting into hate groups or whatever. And when the kids and I are watching/reading things together, BY GOLLY do I insist on quality then! But beyond that, I don't think we get to have a say in what they watch.

I'm a writer. I have STRONG feelings about storytelling quality. I'm a voracious reader who is very much a snob about dumbed down content. So I really do get your frustration with the crap your kids are choosing to watch. I share your frustration. I can't fucking believe my kids are into twitch streams, like, jesus christ, I cannot imagine a worse way to waste three hours of your time than to watch someone else play a game. I bang my head against the door of my closed room plenty of times!

Then I grit my teeth and listen with avid attention as my kids give me a play-by-play recount of the whole three hours they just saw.

Someday, when I'm old and toothless, these kids will indulge my dementia-induced ramblings with the same forbearance and kindness. I hope. *shakes fist*
posted by MiraK at 11:16 AM on May 25, 2021 [6 favorites]

Aside from the issues others have touched on re. age appropriateness - I think worrying about the "quality" of storytelling they're seeing supposes that the only purpose of stories is to teach an appreciation of literary merit, profound human lessons, storytelling technique etc.

I think there's also another really important function of storytelling, which is to bond you with your peers. For that, the important thing is that they get to watch and enjoy and talk about the same things their friends are watching, enjoying, and talking about. Obviously, not at any cost. If the kid next door watches The Exorcist, then no. But if it's just trashy stories, I think the joy of discovering new things with your friends is really valuable in itself even if the storytelling is poor by conventional standards. It's not mucking up their brains, it's developing a different part of their brains. And uncovering things that their parents don't understand or appreciate is part of the buzz that will spur them on to keep searching out creative work that they enjoy in future. If they enjoy it, it's obviously serving some purpose to their little brains. Older generations thought punk was an abomination without any melody, but that's because they simply couldn't understand that there were things other than melody that could make music worthwhile - the excitement, the discovery, the newness, the act of sharing things with your peers that your parents don't understand how to enjoy.

Every now and then I'll be in an enjoyable conversation about the kids' TV of my youth, which I'm sure was trash, but we all remember the catchphrases, daft characters and so on, it stirs a real sense of nostalgia, and epoch, and deep happiness. And then someone in the corner will say "Well we didn't have a TV, my parents didn't approve of it, none of this means anything to me" and I feel really bad for them. Not because they missed out on some quality storytelling, but because they missed out on discovering and sharing the artefacts of culture that marked my generation's childhood, thanks to their parents' gatekeeping of what they thought represented "quality" input.
posted by penguin pie at 11:34 AM on May 25, 2021 [14 favorites]

It occurs to me that, for the average kid, the stuff they're consuming is much more achievable than what you'd choose. That is to say, as they learn to tell their own stories and create their own works, it's going to start off much more like a random fan video than High Art, and it's good for them to see such things in a positive light and feel encouraged to explore the medium at the level they're comfortable, without feeling like only Great Artists are allowed to craft.
posted by teremala at 11:41 AM on May 25, 2021 [9 favorites]

I strongly second everything that MiraK says , and think that this is to some extent just developmental. The things that our kids find hilarious are largely not things that we find entertaining or funny, and vice versa- and the percentage of content we all genuinely enjoy increases as they age.

I will also add that in our experience, much of what our kids (14 and 9) watch/like is whatever their peer groups are into, which we have virtually no control over. So much of the crappy (imo) stuff they find hilarious comes directly from their friends, and it serves a social purpose beyond just being entertainment, in the sense that they talk and laugh about the content with peers, and share things back and forth. I take a lot of solace in that!

On preview, strongly agree with penguin pie also!
posted by DTMFA at 11:42 AM on May 25, 2021 [2 favorites]

YouTube is where I feel the distance of generation gap with my niblings. I watch with them if they want to show me stuff and we repeatedly have an age appropriate convo about algorithms and Nazis and hate groups and how they get promoted by YT and how dangerous getting into that thinking is.
posted by quince at 11:44 AM on May 25, 2021 [1 favorite]

Tiny Baby Stoat. Nearly five minutes of bliss. That's all I got.
posted by Beholder at 11:17 PM on May 25, 2021

My teenager writes: I have read many terrible things over the years. I regret reading things that espoused horrible and hateful views, or that contained a level of violence that was beyond what I could handle, as those left a lasting and negative impression on me. I don't regret reading things that were merely poorly written. I enjoyed them, after all, and later on I understood why they sucked. No harm, no foul.
posted by mbrubeck at 4:33 PM on August 28, 2021

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