Dark side of YouTube Related Videos

This morning someone at our church asked for a DVD copy of the preschool Christmas video their daughter had “read” in, and I told them I could burn a DVD but it was also on YouTube. They then told me they had just seen the video “Stethescope” on YouTube, and showed it to their own preschool kids. The video was great, but the “related videos” were not. (I mobile blogged this from my iPhone so I could not initially paste the YouTube video embed code now, but have added it below.)

As you can see from the iPhone YouTube screenshots at the bottom of this post, some the “related videos” are not likely to be ones parents will want to show to their preschoolers.

This is one “dark side” of YouTube related videos. It highlights the importance of emphasizing “ethical clicking” online, which is an important part of both digital citizenship and digital discipline. It also underscores why YouTube is not a great destination for young children. Totlol is a better choice:

Totlol is a video website designed specifically for children. It is community moderated. It is constantly growing. It is powered by YouTube.

Of course videos like “Stethescope” are not likely to be on Totlol, but perhaps that is OK. As my wife commented when I told her about this, when showing young children YouTube sites, it’s important for parents to be in control / driving the mouse. Totlol, on the other hand, is a “safe” online video destination which appears to be fine to turn your kids loose on… Even young preschoolers.

I’m not asserting that we should or can keep older children off YouTube. I think we need to help our children develop good decision making skills both offline and online, and ethical clicking is a part of that skill set. I’m not sure what age we need to start discussing these issues with children, but it likely needs to be pretty young as kids are getting online. I have not enabled any parental controls on my iPhone or our family iTouch for YouTube content, but this situation has me wondering if I should.

I cross posted our preschool Christmas message video to GodTube, and I think I will embed that version rather than the YouTube one on our church website. I think it is good and important to have Chistian-themed videos on YouTube because they can reach a wider audience. Situations like this also highlight our ongoing need for digital dialog.

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