For Parents: Is Your Child Using YouTube?

Example of Teen V-log (Video Journaling):


I have been slowly posting articles from my Workshop Presentation that I give to parents and kids about the Internet in really simple basic terms from a younger perspective. One of the major complaints about Frontline’s: Growing Up Online is it only covered the surface of what we, net-geners, are doing online. There were very few comprehensive explanations, nor did they explain how parents can monitor their kids, how parents can benefit from the web and the real how and why’s. Here is the first post in my series of “Growing Up Online…continued.”

**Note: YouTube is only one of many similar ‘video sharing sites.’ YouTube is the most popular, but the explanation below can also be applied to other video sharing sites that your teen might use such as Vimeo, V-Social Google Video or Video egg to name a few.

The What:


YouTube is a website where people can watch and share original videos worldwide. YouTube allows people to upload and share video clips on and then share them across the Internet through other websites, mobile devices, blogs, and email.

The Why:

People use YouTube because:

1) Expression: It is a way to broadcast feelings, emotion, points of views or opinions. People use YouTube to journal or just to rant and get their feelings out the same way someone might write in a diary or talk to a friend.

2) Explanation: It is often much easier to verbally explain something than it is to do it in writing. Many businessmen, teachers, bloggers or average people will use YouTube to verbally explain something and then send it to their friends/colleagues/students etc. (This is how I use YouTube, when I post a video for you guys explaining a concept I felt I could not quite get out in writing.)

3) Entertainment: People just love to watch other people’s funny videos, and it is a way to see bizarre, different and unique things beyond your everyday experience.

4) Creativity: Making videos, watching videos and editing videos can be really fun. Our generation especially loves to manipulate what we watch and we will often take something that we have seen and personalize it by editing/mixing or changing it. In past generations, budding producers or artists made their videos with a camcorder, our generation uses their webcams.


(This was the number one watched video on YouTube for many weeks if you can believe it. It has had over 8 MILLION views!)

5) Communication: YouTube is a unique view into other people’s lives. You can communicate to your friends…and strangers anything you want about yourself and your identity and youth often use it to communicate with others how they want to portray themselves.

6) Socialization: YouTube is a very active community. Many users share videos, post reponses to each other’s videos (explanations below) and ‘friend’ each other on YouTube.

The How:


How to visit YouTube: To find YouTube, you can either click here or you can type “” into your browser bar (see picture). Once you get to the YouTube homepage or main page, you will see “videos being watched right now” as well as “promoted videos” (when companies pay to have their commercial or video advertised on the main page of YouTube to get a lot of views. You can also see the most popular videos and browse video by category. You can also use the search box to look for videos, for example if you type in Vanessa Van Petten all of my videos will come up!

How to make a video: To put a video on YouTube or join the community you must ‘create an account’ with a username, email address and password. To make a video, you must have a webcam, regular video camera, cell phone with a camera or digital camera with a video record feature (I am assuming almost all teens have access to these). You can 1) do a ‘quick capture’ on YouTube itself and use your webcam. 2) Use a computer program with your webcam such as imovie to record something on your computer and edit it. You can then ‘upload’ the video onto YouTube. 3) Make a video with an external device and then ‘upload’ the video to YouTube. **Note: You cannot edit videos on YouTube, you can only edit them on your computer and upload the final version onto YouTube.

How to share a video: Once you have uploaded your video to YouTube you must title it, give it a short explanation and ‘tag’ it (or label it with appropriate categories). Once this is done it goes into the general YouTube system and anyone can watch it, rate it (give it a certain amount of stars), share it (email it to friends), comment on it, edit it (download it onto their personal computer and chop it up and add to it) or put it on their website.


This is my ‘navigation bar’ for one of my videos. It shows me the URL or the embed code, which anyone can copy and paste into and email or their website to have the video pop up (that is what I did for the videos on this page). You can also see how many people viewed this video (556), I have 6 comments, a four and a half star rating and it tells me when I put this video up.

How to participate in the YouTube Community: As I mentioned above you can rate a video or comment on other people’s videos. You can also add a video to your ‘favorite list.’ You can friend other users if you like their videos and send people messages. I also have a number of people who ‘subscribe to my videos’ so that every time I post a new one, they get an email notification. There are certain YouTubers who have many fans and subscribers and can make a video popular in a matter of minutes because they have so many people following them.

The Parent Part:

1) Please talk to your kids about the idea that anyone can see these videos, and once you put it up you can never really take it back. Yes, you can take the video down, but someone can always download your video onto their computer and do what they want with it and you would never know the difference! When I do my web presentation for teens and kids, I always mention the immediacy of sites like YouTube, how you can put something up in an instant and it never goes away.

2) If I were a parent, I would make sure to set-up the privacy settings on my kid’s YouTube account. You can do this by clicking “My Account” and changing everything on their profile so it is not visible to strangers and make a policy with your child (totally dependent on age and family) if they can post their own videos, if they can make friends, etc.

3) If you feel your child is going on YouTube or another videosharing site and posting videos, the best way to make sure there are no videos being posted, is to take away any video camera or disable the webcam. I do not recommend this idea, because they will always be able to find friend’s webcams to use and now many phones and digital cameras can take videos. I always recommend talking to them to set up a system on how they are using Video Sharing sites.

Email any questions of comments!


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4 Responses to “For Parents: Is Your Child Using YouTube?”

  1. Dave LaMorte
    April 8, 2008 at 9:21 am #

    This is great. I’m working on a podcast about the effects of YouTube on the K-12 classroom and I’m definitely going to link/mention this post. If you have time one evening this week I’d love to have you on to talk about your views.

    Drop me an email.

  2. Alexa Tanner
    November 14, 2008 at 8:30 pm #

    I think it’s okay for kids to express themselves this way on youtube. My younger cousin (who is 11 and in 6th grade) posts videos on there all the time. She and her friends use fake names, locations, etc. to hide their identities and to keep them safe. She has many views and comments, but is still safe.

  3. Anne @ Yoursphere
    March 23, 2009 at 10:38 am #

    Excellent, as always. I appreciate how you outlined the basics step by step and give tangible actions that parents can follow!

  4. Jon, Turning Winds
    January 8, 2011 at 5:35 am #

    Making videos on youtube can be very enjoying for anyone, especially for kids. But parents should constantly remind their children of the harmful effects of the internet and they should limit what they broadcast on the web.
    Personally, I wouldn’t want to expose my children to the internet in an early age because you will never know what they’d be able to see there especially during times that we’re not around to supervise them. Some troubled teens learn inappropriate things from youtube and other social bookmarking sites, which can be very disturbing for us parents.
    As inevitable as the situation may be, at least we should do our best to keep our children be reminded of what’s wrong and what’s right.
    Thank you for this helpful post.

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