YouTube might have its problems, but the platform is also rich with fun, educational, free content for you and the children in your care to enjoy.
YouTube has far too many redeeming qualities for anyone to suggest a blanket ban on the service. As always, the app can be safely enjoyed by kids if you keep up the communication, and let them know what is, and isn’t, appropriate on the platform.
Although YouTube does have age restrictions (certain videos are marked as 18+), if your child is watching content on your account, they will be easily able to get around these blocks. Similarly, YouTube isn’t perfect – plenty of deeply disturbing content slips through the algorithm, as shown by the recent ElsaGate Scandal.
So to make it easier to ensure the children in your care are safe, lets run through a few channels that are appropriate, and educational, for kids. Then, let’s take a look at a few hugely popular channels that absolutely are not.
Good for Kids
The Australia Zoo runs a channel on YouTube to document the lives of their animals, and the Irwin Family. It’s a great, entertaining, and educational resource for kids of all ages. Many videos are hosted by Bindi and Robert – children of the Late Steve Irwin – and do a fantastic job at engaging younger audiences, and imparting some of their impressive knowledge of Australian wildlife.
TED Talks are known and loved by many adults, but can are often a little involved to be understood or enjoyed by younger teens or children. However, TED also run a secondary channel on YouTube – TED-Ed – which features short, animated videos that explain in simpler terms some of the lessons uncovered by their speakers. It’s definitely worth subscribing to – the videos are fantastic for classrooms and weekend entertainment alike.
SciShow is an extremely popular channel that seeks to explain some of life’s big questions in an accessible way for people of all ages. You can learn about all sorts of things; why cats purr, what ‘gluten’ really is, and why avocados shouldn’t exist. It’s fun, well-edited, and does a fantastic job of getting curious people of all ages thinking scientifically.
Certain videos do contain weird, wild or medical content – so it might be best to watch along with younger children.
Kids need a break from all that learning sometimes! If your child is into gaming – which, after the rampant commercial success of titles such as Fortnite and Roblox, is likely – they may want to watch Twitch streamers or gaming content on YouTube. If you do choose to allow your child to do so, Ninja is an extremely popular channel that seems to be standing out as a great example of how video game streaming should be done.
Unlike other streamers, he keeps his language clean, entertains without shock value or by causing offence, and seems to have rightfully earned his 13 million current subscribers.
You might also like: Our Free Gaming Handbook. Keep your gaming child safe when playing online.
While I’ll admit, this channel is full of clickbait and questionable craft ideas, 5-Minute Crafts KIDS is a lot of good clean fun for kids that love arts, crafts and DIY.
There are a lot of silly, funny ideas for weekend projects that won’t cost you the earth (many are made from plastic bottles and other recycling), so you can be sure to keep your kids entertained. The channel is imaginative, colourful, and great for younger viewers.
For even younger viewers, you definitely need to tread cautiously when it comes to YouTube.
Although if you are looking for a few videos to keep your child occupied, or treat them on a Saturday afternoon, there is a great deal of perfectly acceptable content. Case in point: The Official Peppa Pig Channel.
One problem with YouTube is that videos will autoplay quickly after the last one has finished. When videos aren’t in a playlist, YouTube’s algorithm will select one that it thinks the viewer will enjoy. This led to some incredibly disturbing content appear for children who were watching their favourite animations on the platform.
Peppa Pig – Official Channel has a good work around. By combining a few episodes into Hour Long videos, you can safely let your young child enjoy their favourite show while you are preoccupied without having to worry about the video switching to something harmful.
Inappropriate and Harmful
Internet Safe Education has decided not to supply links to these channels, as we do not want to supply them with any extra traffic. However, you are able to find them online if you should wish to see anything discussed below for yourself.
To the dismay of many, Logan Paul is an extremely successful online personality. His YouTube channel, at the time of writing, has 17.6 million unfortunate subscribers. They tune in regularly to watch Mr Paul travel to Japan to smash things in the street, insult his younger brother, and zap dead rats with a taser. Most notably, in a horribly misguided attempt at a ‘haunted house-esque’ video, he tried to spend a night in Japan’s Aokigahara forest. Also well known as Japan’s ‘suicide forest’.
It wasn’t long before he came across a body. And Paul, (apparently amazed to find a suicide victim in a forest that he has traveled halfway across the world to spend a night in because of it’s worldwide reputation for being a ‘suicide forest’), asks of his viewers in disbelief “Bro, did we just find a dead person in the suicide forest?”.
Further reasoned commentary ensues as he asks of his young fanbase to “buckle the **** up, because you’re never gonna see a video like this again.”
17.6 million followers. Only 40% of them being at least 18.
Jake Paul, Logan’s younger brother, enjoys almost equal success with a subscriber count of 15 million. His content features him and his band of merry friends making equally poor decisions.
Like his brother, Jake has also been involved in his fair share of scandal. His content features him and his friends lighting fires in drained swimming pools, climbing on tops of cars, and proudly announcing to members of the media that his neighbours hate him.
Jake’s channel doesn’t feature anything quite a disturbing as Logan’s – although it does set an incredibly poor standard of what is, and isn’t, acceptable behaviour. His over-the-top antics are often similar in nature to MTV’s Jackass series, and are often accompanied by him showing off his resulting immense wealth. Younger viewers could definitely be led to believe that this behaviour should be rewarded.
‘Dramaalert’ is the YouTube equivalent of a celebrity magazine. Gossip, arguments and the titualar ‘drama’ of the platform are put proudly on display by the show’s host Keemstar, who himself has been publicly outed on numerous occasions using racial slurs, relentlessly cyberbullying younger players while online gaming, and in one case, even falsely and maliciously accusing a man of being a pedophile, and encouraging his fan base to attack him.
‘Dramaalert’ is popular among younger viewers for its schoolyard-gossip content. However, just beneath the surface there appears to be a dangerous culture of planned cyberbullying and in-fighting that could be very damaging for younger viewers.
Onision is an outspoken, controversial YouTube personality, whose ‘career’ has been embroiled by a constant shade of scandal. In 2016, Onision set up a website where he requested his female fans send photos of themselves for his critique. The idea was simple: he would view the bodies of these young women and publicly state his opinion on whether they need to lose weight. The problem – aside from the other blazingly obvious issues with this – was that the website allegedly did not require any age verification, or ask users to be over 18 before sending semi-naked photos of themselves.
Whether or not Onision deliberately or indirectly encouraged young girls to send him child exploitative materials is a question we cannot answer. However, no child (or adult) should be exposed to a YouTube channel that objectifies young women so profoundly regardless.
Leafy is Here
Leafy is Here was, and remains, a very popular YouTube channel – especially with adolescent audiences. A young man, who calls himself ‘Leafy’, would regularly find videos from other YouTube channels, and mercilessly mock the people within them. He claims his channel is satire, and shouldn’t be taken seriously, but satire or not, Leafy’s crude cyberbullying is not suitable for the eyes of anyone, let alone children.
Leafy met criticism of his own when he made a video mocking a man who, it was revealed, was autistic.
Leafy’s fanbase had, as they often did, found the original video and harrassed its creator. In this case, they attacked an autistic man – even threatening his life – which led to him breaking down in tears on camera, understandably confused and afraid.
This sort of mob behaviour is sickening – especially when done so publicly and proudly by a group of people. This ‘trolling’ culture i’m sure is not one we want anyone to be a part of, let alone the children in our care.
5 principles to stay safe online
For more information on ensuring the children in your care are safe online, please take a copy of our free handbook: 5 Principles To Stay Safe Online.
In it, we discuss the five most crucial rules that parents and caretakers should be following to keep our kids safe in the online world.