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Kids and YouTube. Who's watching who?

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Parents don't really understand how the Youtube Platform works. Carrots&Cake listened to the top Screen Time podcasts by TVO & summarized the key takeaways. Carrots&Cake independently created these podcast notes and does not have any affiliation with the Screen Time podcast.

Key Individuals:

  • Josh Golan - Executive director of the nonprofit Fair Play for Kids.
  • Becca Lewis - Ph.D. Candidate at Stanford. Researches online video platforms and digital subcultures.

Key Takeaways

  • Kids don't really understand how the YouTube platform works (It's hard for them to put a face on a company like YouTube and understand just how the algorithm works).
  • The commercial pressures on children these days are really shaping their development, values, and their behaviors in ways that are concerning.
  • The issue of aging out of YouTube kids before someone turns 13 is really common, as the content which is provided on YouTube Kids is just not sufficient.
  • The difference between how advertisements are set on television is marketers are broadcasting while on YouTube, they are narrowcasting, meaning they are viewer-focused.

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  • Lego did a survey in 2019, where they asked 3000 kids aged nine to 12 what they wanted to be when they grow up. For context, the survey was part of an initiative to get kids excited about space exploration. The top career aspiration for North American kids was “influencer”. Kids see being an influencer on YouTube as more interesting than outer space.

YouTube for Kids & Adults

  • YouTube Kids is for children aged 12 and under. It's a totally separate app, it only has kids' content. It has control settings built in so parents can fine-tune their kids' experience.
  • YT kids is building its following from babyhood. Why do they have to market to little kids? The company hopes to lock in a customer for life
  • That is their business model, their business is to keep people's attention on their products so that ads can be targeted at them.
  • The issue with YT Kids is that if a creator doesn't label a video as kids' content, the video won't make it into the kids' platform, resulting in kids aging out of the platform and moving to YouTube, which opens up to all sorts of adult content which isn't appropriate for them.

Josh Golan

  • Advocate for a Commercial-Free Childhood. Their goal is to get rid of marketing to kids altogether. And lately, a lot of their work is focusing on protecting kids' privacy and their data. In 2019, Fairplay helped bring a landmark lawsuit to stop the collection of kids' data against Google, which owns YouTube.
  • Josh says ‘it's much easier to get a kid off television than it is off  YT because it doesn't have that “never-ending feel”.’

What should grownups know about YouTube?

  • First of all, kids lose total track of time when they watch YouTube videos.
  • The interesting thing about the recommendation algorithm is that it's really difficult to know anything about it from the outside. There's been a lot of hypotheses that perhaps the YouTube algorithm is trying to keep users glued to the platform by constantly recommending things that are a little bit more extreme or a little bit more intense bit by bit.

YouTube and its safe space for kids (What can parents do)

  • Kids are consumers and products all at once on YouTube platforms.
  • YouTube says in one-quarter of last year they took down 1.8 million videos for breaking their child safety policies. This illustrated just how massive the platform is.
  • Parental advice:

My child isn't allowed to search on his own on YouTube.

He has to tell us what he's going to put in the search box before he can search.

The autoplay is turned off.

We never let him watch it alone.

He can't go off and watch YouTube for an hour

Also Read: The Science Behind Carrots&Cake

To learn more about screen time and its impact on your child's brain development, listen to the full podcast here by Screen Time.

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