What should my kids understand before posting or viewing videos on YouTube?

YouTube is a video hosting service owned by Google. There are other video hosting services, but this is by far the most popular service. YouTube is a great tool for sharing your own video content, and for discovering an endless supply of funny, educational, how-to, and cute videos. In fact, YouTube is so popular that 300 hours of new video is uploaded to the site every minute!

Consider content before youth watch videos

YouTube also contains videos that you may find highly inappropriate, with violence, hate speech, nudity, profanity, threats, bullying, and offensive or crude behavior.  The service has clear community guidelines to monitor content hosted on their service, but they cannot catch every video that violates their guidelines and need users to do their part by flagging inappropriate content they come across. Every video has a “flag” button underneath it so you can report the issue to YouTube instantly.

The service also provides an age restricted option for content that is within the community guidelines but not suitable for all ages.

To filter out content that you do not wish to see, or to have your children see, YouTube has a Safety Mode that will significantly reduce (but cannot be guaranteed to eliminate) objectionable content.

For younger children, you may choose to view videos together so you can manage their viewing experience. For older kids and young teens, leveraging additional family safety products can expand on the service’s content filters and may be desirable, along with a clear discussion about which types of content are acceptable or unacceptable to view or to search.

Consider content before posting videos

Determining which home videos are suitable to share on YouTube or any other video sharing service requires thought, family conversations and an agreement to respect others’ privacy and safety online.

First, spend time thinking about the types of information you are comfortable with sharing or having your family share through video content posted publicly online. Would it be ok for people to see your child’s face if their name isn’t listed? Would you be comfortable if the video exposed your home location or general location? Are there types of actions or language that you would not feel comfortable having online? Watch your video (or your child’s video) with a keen eye for any information that you would be uncomfortable making public.

Once you’ve decided on the privacy and safety boundaries you feel are appropriate, sit down with your kids and teens and discuss these boundaries. See if they need revising or if additional boundaries should be added. You may choose to include a requirement that all videos must be evaluated by you from a privacy and safety perspective before they are uploaded until your children and teens are adept at identifying and removing potential risks.

Next, discuss how to honor the safety and privacy of others. It is disrespectful and inconsiderate to post any video without first getting the express permission of everyone shown in the video. If there are minors in the video, you should get consent from their parents before posting. Asking others’ permission is not merely a “courtesy” gesture. Be aware that people caught in your video might not want the video posted, or that their parents might not want the video posted to a publicly viewable site. You have no right to be angry with someone who does not want their image or actions shared, whereas they have every right to be angry if you post a video with them in it if you did not first obtain their approval.

If someone does not want to be included in a video you’ll need to edit the content to remove that person from the video, or not post the video publicly.

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