You may be thinking – “What did she just say?” – and if I’m honest, for a few moments when I started mulling over this idea, I too contemplated whether I was an extremist. But you read that correctly. Youtube is banned in this household…at least for now (we’re in the technological age after all).
When my husband and I introduced our daughter to devices, YouTube Kids was one of the first platforms we used to engage her digitally. To us it was easy to use and housed tons of content targeting children of all ages, which we thought was more than perfect.
Suffice to say, my mind has changed since that initial decision because as my daughter got older, I’ve noticed a few characteristics in her behaviour that I believe are connected to her use of the app. After some research, I decided to delete the app from her tablet and to see if there would be any improvement to the things I noticed.
Why we banned YouTube Kids
For context, I am a Jamaican mom of a very curious and independent three-year-old. I call her a ‘threenager’ because of how advanced she is in some areas. Though independent she is at a very impressionable stage in her development where she mimics what she sees and hears in her environment, and the platform, we noticed, played a major part in how she was developing. So we instituted the ban.
Here are my reasons for barring her from the app.
Irritability and Impatience:
My daughter’s tablet is set up in such a way that it breaks every half hour to give her a chance to rest her eyes. It blocks her from using the device for 90 seconds and counts down the time until the break is over. After a while of watching YouTube kids, I noticed that she became more inpatient with the device or was more irritated at break than anything. It got to a point where sis was out here throwing her tablet, screaming in frustration, or puffing up and folding her arms.
Parental controls limitations:
Yes there are controls but they weren’t to my liking. I spent way too much time blocking her from certain channels only for the algorithm to put something similar before her seconds later. It became insanely counterproductive for me to be trusting her with the tablet only to tune in to what she is watching and realize it is something against what we want to expose her to at this age.
Limited Attention Span and Focus:
The carousel design of the algorithm is also quite addictive for a child and I believe limited her attention span. With soooo many options it was the digital equivalent of leaving a kid in a candy store – she was not sure what to do. She just hopped from place to place, which ultimately made it hard for us as parents to track.
I was uncomfortable with some of the content the algorithm would push to her. In my view, they were either too mature for a three-year-old or too suggestive, and I wasn’t having that. Now I am not sure what the guidelines are for creating content for children, or even if there are any guidelines, but some of the suggested videos were out of scope for what we wanted our daughter exposed to at this time.
Results from the YouTube ban
So here we are… months after saying bye bye YouTube Kids and I want to share the findings with you. Since the discontinuation I believe I’ve seen several improvements in her behaviour and have realized that she has a greater appreciation for things – get this – other than her tablet.
More and more I have noticed that she is not solely dependent on the device and has spread the love to her other toys. Self-play is critical to a child’s development and I can say this ban has improved her expression of her imagination, which is pretty cool.
Ultimately, I am grateful for her stick-to-itiveness, patience and her willingness to try new things without giving up too easily. She no longer become frustrated during the tablet wellness breaks, but waits patiently, or sometimes even finds something else to occupy her time. Thankfully, she takes wellness breaks with grace now and the at-home tablet discus competition has ended.
If you have come this far, thank you for reading! But you may be wondering what is the alternative application to be used after this ban. For us, that solution has been Khan Academy Kids. Though this was always on her tablet, she did not use it as often because she was so preoccupied with YTK. Since the switch, I haven’t had an issue with this application and I hope I will not in the future. She also watches Netflix Kids occasionally.
Who knows, the best alternative may very well be to limit our access to these external influences that play a part in how our children are socialized, but that my friend is a whole other discussion for another time. I am open to any suggestions you may have as an alternative.
How do you handle YouTube in your home? Do you restrict the content your children are allowed to watch? Why or Why not? Do you agree with the YouTube ban?
Let me know in the comments.