OPINION: Should I let my youngster set up their own YouTube account?

Pretty kid playing game smartphone indoor

A love of technology may mean the youngsters in your life want to watch YouTube videos or set up their own accounts, but there are plenty of protocols to follow, says the NSPCC - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

NSPCC local campaigns manager Emma Motherwell has advice if your children or grandchildren are keen to set up their own account during the school summer holidays

YouTube can be an excellent platform for viewing music, the latest film and gaming trailers, and accessing ‘how to’ content.

In fact, since its creation in 2005 the platform has grown from strength to strength and today is regarded as the second most visited internet platform in the world after Facebook.

In 2020, over 100 billion hours of gaming videos alone were watched on YouTube.

Over 500 hours of content is uploaded every minute and more than a billion hours of video are viewed every day. With the scale of content this enormous it is understandable why children and young people find this platform so useful.

Unfortunately, not all content on YouTube is suitable for children and young people to view, but there are things parents can do to help their child navigate through this platform safely, whilst still allowing them to access their favourite and new content.

The best place to start is by exploring the platform together and using the time to discuss what content the child likes to watch, what they share and who, if anyone, they speak to. It is worth noting that most YouTubers communicate via comments, but there are options to send private messages too if a user has a profile.

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A child may wish to become more interactive on this platform, but before a profile is set up it’s important to remember that a child should be 13 years old before they have an account, and if they’re aged 13 to 17 they must have the permission of their parents.

Google can provide support for parents who wish to create an account for their child, which includes using Family Link to manage the account, and this can be found easily with a quick search online.

Understandably, if a young person wants to create an account, it’s likely they will want to share their own videos on the platform too.

A parent knows their child best, so it’s up to them to decide if their child is mature enough to do this.

Parents could set up the account with their child and help them set the profile to private so only friends can view their uploaded video content, there’s also an option for disabling comments.

Parents should also remind young people that they should never share private things online like personal information, including names and other social media accounts.

It’s important they know not to share other people’s personal information too. If children are sent a link to join a private group chat with people they don’t know they should never accept it, they shouldn’t share photos of themselves and if they’re asked for photos or videos of their body they should seek help from a trusted adult right away.

In fact, if anything doesn’t seem right young people should be encouraged to speak out.

If a child has a You Tube profile already set up, I’d recommend parents look at the safety settings with them and the platform’s ‘Restriction Mode’ where they can tweak the settings as necessary. ‘YouTube’s Safety Information for Parents’ will help to make the process as simple as possible.

Making videos is an amazing way to learn valuable new skills for a young person and this shouldn’t be discouraged, it’s just important that parents keep a close eye on the content of the videos to ensure their young person is creating content in a safe way.

It’s important to be mindful of oversharing information, but also, when hidden behind a screen it can be very easy to say or do things that wouldn’t normally occur elsewhere and these can be deemed as inappropriate, revealing or offensive.

Young people may also feel pressure from friends, trends or other influencers to keep posting material and this can create an unnecessarily stressful environment.

Parents should keep those regular conversations going to find out what’s happening in every aspect of a child’s online world.

For more information on YouTube and other gaming platforms visit www.net-aware.org.uk