These days, scarcely a week seems to go by in the news without one of the latest YouTube stars making some kind of serious mistake. Whether they released compromising pictures or whether they made an inappropriate or unwise comment, the media are always waiting in the wings to pounce on their transgressions.
The YouTuber Phenomenon
Not so long ago, pre-teens’ bedrooms were decorated with posters of the latest bands and they would beg for the most recent edition of teen magazines so they could ogle images of the hottest movie stars. However, these days, children only seem to be interested in “YouTubers,” and names like Liza Koshy, Gabbie Hanna and Shane Dawson will probably have been bandied around your house on more than one occasion.
These youth stars have a huge pre-teen following, and that’s all fine when they’re donating to charity or giving positive messages. However, when they’re caught out doing something inappropriate, or when they’ve expressed politically incorrect views, parents, quite rightly, begin to worry about whether or not their child should be watching their videos.
Recent Media Stories
Just in the last year there have been several scandals involving popular YouTuber. PewDiePie is just one example, who was discovered to have anti-Semitic and racist videos. Then there was the highly publicized case of Logan Paul who uploaded a broadcast from a “suicide forest” in Japan which featured a dead body. It’s no wonder, then, that parents are starting to express their concerns about whether YouTube content of this nature is suitable for youngsters at all.
However, as anyone who remembers what it was like to be a teenager knows, the more parents express their disapproval of something the more kids feel connected to it, so it’s important to tackle these issues in the right way. Come down too hard on their favorite YouTubers and you run the risk of your child taking it personally and feeling that your criticism is also levelled at them. YouTube, whether we like it or not, is a very powerful influence on young people today, so we need to use the mistakes made by these celebrities as a learning point for our children, rather than trying to prevent them from engaging with it.
Here are some of the ways in which you can approach the issues with your children.
Discuss How YouTube Works
Your children probably already know about how YouTube works and how their favorite celebrities earn their money based on their numbers of subscribers and page views. Talk rationally about how this may encourage YouTubers to say or do things that are likely to attract the most attention so they can be paid more. Ask your child whether they think that YouTubers should have to take such extreme lengths to attract viewers, and whether it’s really acceptable to watch videos of people doing risky things or getting hurt. Find out their opinions about whether attracting such negative attention is really worth it.
Discuss The Safety Aspects Of YouTube
Many parents worry about their children copying dangerous stunts and crazy antics – after all, young people feel very close to these celebrities are are highly influenced by the things that they do. That’s why it’s so important to discuss safety with your kids. You can talk about the things that they’ve seen that were silly or funny, but then also point out some of the really stupid things that have recently appeared online, such as the idiot who managed to get his head stuck in a microwave with cement. By highlighting the dangers and the negative aftermath of these pranks, your kids will inevitably judge for themselves which behaviors should be avoided.
Drawing The Line
There’s no point in lecturing your kids about offensive YouTubers as it will only alienate them. Instead, talk about your opinions on that kind of content. Your children still look up to you and value your opinion, even when they’re a pre-teen, so saying that you’re not interested in watching any videos where people are risking their own safety or are making fun of serious issues will encourage them to follow suit, while also showing them that you trust them to choose their own content wisely.
By Zunammie Keren
Taken from the March 2018 issue of Geek Parenting, out now!