Youtube for Kids: The Good and the Bad
While on their devices, children are doing more than just playing games. Instead of watching cartoons on cable TV like we did—and because they are more tech-savvy than ever—children are watching videos on YouTube. Because of its vast size, it’s easy to get lost in all of the videos and channels. It’s even easier to let YouTube’s algorithm automatically play your next video. So, while you thought you chose a great video for your child, a few videos later may not be what you intended.
This all seems overwhelming, but we’ve got you covered. We’ve compiled a list of the good and the bad so you know what to look out for while your kids surf the Youtube web!
- National Geographic Kids
“Nat Geo Kids” allows children to explore the world and their curiosity through weird, wild and wacky videos.
- PBS Kids
Who hasn’t heard of PBS Kids? A family-favorite, their YouTube channel showcases a huge inventory of educational shows. Plus, they offer live streams of shows and new episodes!
Words are the focus of this show and are literally the characters—WordFriends are animals whose bodies are made up of the letters that spell the word they are.
- DoDo Kids
This YouTube channel is perfect for animal lovers. With a positive and uplifting focus, DoDo Kids features furry, funny, heartwarming, inspiring, exciting and playful animal stories. A new partnership with Sesame Street brings Elmo and Cookie Monster’s own series on the channel, “Families for Furry Friends.” New videos are posted weekly.
- The Brain Scoop
Curiosity will be cured with this channel. With 200+ episodes, a variety of topics are explored, from fossils to dissection.
- Sesame Street
The “original” preschool-age television series made its way to YouTube with its very own channel.
- Storyline Online
Children can snuggle up for virtual story time using this channel. Imaginatively produced videos featuring celebrities reading children’s books, this channel fosters a love of reading in children.
- Little Baby Bum
From catchy originals to classic nursery rhymes, Little Baby Bun posts new stuff weekly.
- ChuChu TV
This channel engages children through nursery rhymes and educational songs. ChuChu TV adds new content several times a week and is available in a variety of languages.
- Super Simple Songs
Children can dance, learn and explore through popular songs and nursery rhymes with movement.
Do you know JJ? Have you heard the catchy introduction on every Cocomelon show? It grabs everyone’s attention, followed by entertaining and educational content.
Have you heard of TED Talks? TED-Ed is the “baby” of TED Talks, geared toward children with challenging riddles and a commitment to creating lessons worth sharing.
- Netflix Jr.
Characters from popular kid’s Netflix shows are featured in short, engaging videos. New content is added weekly.
- Houston Zoo
Have your children—or you—ever wondered what happens behind-the-scenes in a zoo? With this channel, you’ll get your answer!
- Crash Course Kids
Have a science-lover? Crash Course Kids explores all-things science, such as Earth, space, chemical reactions and more.
- Free School
Free School is exactly what its title says: free school. Topics include famous art, classical music, children’s literature and more, presented in a kid-accessible and enjoyable way.
- SciShow Kids
The children’s version of the original YouTube series SciShow, SciShow Kids’ shows are structured around the Next Generation Science Standards curriculum—but it is not as boring as that may sound. With fun characters in a fort, they conduct experiments, talk to experts, and research new questions in the field of science.
It’s difficult to say which Youtube channels are bad for kids since it’s up to every family to decide what’s right and wrong for their child. Instead, here’s a list of things to keep an eye on while vetting a new channel for your kids.
- Challenges. Youtube is full of challenge-types content, where creators do some crazy, trendy activity. Some of them are totally harmless, but others, like the “Bird Box Challenge” (where people walk around blindfolded, inspired by the Netflix movie), can be dangerous. When your child is watching a challenge video, ask them what it’s about, or sit down and watch it with them to make sure it’s not anything that will inspire harmful behavior.
- Excess of wealth & unrealistic beauty standards. It’s no secret at this point that the biggest vloggers on Youtube are making copious amounts of money. Even family vloggers are showing off their lavish homes and luxury cars, which can create a false sense of reality in your child’s head and ultimately make them feel bad about themselves. Similarly, beauty vloggers will hide their “imperfections” behind filters and editing, which can also lower your child’s self-esteem.
- “Thin-spo”. This is an insidious part of the internet that has made its way to children’s content. Short for “thin inspiration”, this content is designed to inspire its viewers to stay thin by any means necessary.
- “Grind-set”. Shorthand for “grind-mindset”, this content sets out to teach young minds, mostly boys, that all their time should be spent “hustling” or “grinding” – in other words, making money, not focusing on school, and sacrificing friendships and relationships with family. While this is mostly in pre-teen and teen content, its viewership has only been skewing younger and younger. In addition, many “grind-set” creators are known for weaving their videos with misogynistic messaging.
- Short-form content. It’s not inherently bad, but between TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Youtube Shorts, the market for short-form videos is oversaturated. Short-form content can damage your child’s attention span, so limit their viewing time accordingly.
If you set up a YouTube account for your child, you can share videos and channels from the YouTube app directly to your child’s account.
Use the “approved content only” setting, which keeps the YouTube algorithm at bay, and only lets your child watch videos, channels or collections that you’ve handpicked.
The comments section can be a nasty place. Currently, only the channel owner can disable comments on their videos. Teaching your child about good digital citizenship is the best way to mitigate potential harmful effects of the Youtube comments section.
Trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.
Originally posted 2024
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