It really started innocently enough… “Here, baby. Quietly watch this video while mommy answers some questions for the doctor.” Babies go to the doctor a lot. Older siblings really don’t enjoy these trips. There comes a point where you will do nearly anything to quiet the squirmy, anxiously little angels while you try to have a half way intelligent – or at least half awake (newborns don’t have great sleep schedules) – conversation with your pediatrician. It’s usually somewhere between the car and the reception area.
In my case, ‘nearly anything’ meant finding The Wiggles or some equally annoying kiddie show on my iPhone and handing over that precious piece of metal and glass to an untrustworthy 3 year old. I owe the life of my phone to Otterbox.
Watching videos on my iPhone became a fairly regular thing. It was a quick way to get a moments peace and she really seemed to like it. Fast forward about a bit – somewhere circa 2011… Our library had this program called Kidoz on their computers (basically a safe web browsing environment for kids) and after discovering that we could buy a personal license for the program, we added it to one of the laptops at home. It allowed her to watch videos, play games and do activities without needing constant help. She thought it was awesome. She would watch Betty Crocker videos on how to decorate cakes, science experiments in action and videos of her favorite shows. It was awesome!
After I got my iPad in 2012, I started letting her watch videos via the YouTube app. She’d tell me what she wanted to watch, I’d search it and she’d be content for a few videos. She was also learning to read/spell at that time, so we’d work through what words she needed to search for, how to spell them, etc. One day, she wanted to search for American Girl videos. We did… and that’s when the real obsession started.
She found many, many, MANY videos of house tours, crafts, tutorials and the like – all focused on American Girl and similar dolls. She’d sit up my iPad, find a project, collect her supplies and craft right along with the video. It was really cute to see her little mind working, copying what she saw on the videos, and working her way through how to substitute for the supplies she was missing. Instead of squishing her creativity by limiting her screen time, I embraced it.
Now she asks to make her own videos and asks me to post them on YouTube (which, obviously I do). I give her no direction, no prompting – this is all her. Last night she asked to make a new video (2 actually) and asked me to post them for her. She’s even asking for her own video camera (the jury is still out on that).
Is she addicted to YouTube? Maybe. Probably. Will she move on to something else? I’m sure. Soon enough. Am I a bad parent for contributing to her YouTube interest? I don’t think so. (And, for the record, I do monitor what she’s watching – so, definitely nothing inappropriate.)
What do you think about YouTube? Appropriate for kids to make/post videos or not? What about me letting my 7 year old cruise YouTube?