Parental supervision of YouTube needed

After some consideration, including editorial review (the Senior Chief’s spouse), the post “Trash that passes for kid’s entertainment on YouTube” has been revised and republished. -SCPO

A young Abraham Lincoln learning to read, write, and think, at home – without access to modern conveniences (neither electricity, libraries nor a school) – seems farfetched to us in the 21st Century. He walked long distances to obtain books to educate himself. His parents were responsible for nurturing the future lawyer, legislator and Sixteenth President’s curiosity and intellect since he was a toddler.

As a grandparent of a child thirty months old, I note the speed at which our grandson is learning his “ABC’s”, numbers, and vocabulary. His parents and immediate family are very much involved in nurturing this development. In a normal year, nurturing a preschool age child or children is a challenge, caring for his needs, and through play, learning how to communicate, think and developing social skills. It is more challenging for working parents, but the coronavirus pandemic of 2020 has both limited social interaction with other children, increased the need for parents to monitor their school-age children as well as changed the medium for learning.

In 2020, once the self-quarantine work-stoppage eased, family supported our son and daughter-in-law, one who left for work and the other who was able to work from home, by caring for a toddler. It was then that I first came to see YouTube does not differentiate between “popular” and “proper”, particularly in early childhood education. How many young parents have their toddler watching clever animated videos that sing “Wheels on the Bus”, or “Hickory, Dickory, Dock”? Our two year old grandson loves to watch these videos while playing games, over and over again. However, these are necessarily supervised by Momma, Daddy, Gramma or me. One of the most popular content-providers of this on YouTube, Little Baby Bum, has some disturbing content that follows those. Particularly outrageous are a series of different “lessons” that teach lying has amusing consequences. “Johnny, Johnny” and other variations, ask “are you eating sugar”? “No, pappa”.

“Open your mouth”

“HaHaHa”

At a time when social media content contains objectionable material, it is more important for parents to impress values and good discernment upon their children from their earliest years. Popular content provides huge revenue to the content provider, and is promoted in search more often. It then is necessary for parents to more carefully monitor what their children are learning online. Searching online, an article published by The Verge in 2016 suggests that this particular content has been popular though teaching mixed lessons for years.

At a time when content that is objectionable to some for its political or social messaging carries a warning label, or is being restricted or promoted depending on Google’s business interest, parents have to be vigilant as to what impressionable children learn. Though it may have been unheard of two centuries ago for an adult Abraham Lincoln to hold ideas counter to the majority (abolishing slavery), it would have been his upbringing and self-education that impressed his objections as the Emancipation declaration. As a grandparent, parent, and 26-year veteran of the Navy, technological change and present social attitudes should not replace parental guidance and nurturing of a child’s curiosity, intellect and morality.

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