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Keeping Your Child Safe on YouTube

by Julie Ann De Borja

My daughter is one mad genius. I always say this. Why? Well, I have proof to back it up.

One day she came home from school and handed me over a notice telling me her IQ was Superior and that she belonged in the 95 percentile rank of her class, meaning she belongs in the top 5%. Genius.

But what makes her mad are the things she thinks of doing.

At 10 years old, my daughter has learned how to paint [like I’m talking about landscape painting on canvass with acrylic paint], play the piano, make different sorts of arts and crafts, master origami, all thanks to YouTube. She’s even watched tutorials on how to train her dog from there. And if I’m not mistaken this is where she gets the latest music, too [As she often calls my lovely 90s music “old.” Ouch!].

Just this Halloween, she won a prize for best in costume for showing up like a zombie, complete with fake make-up of her rotting body, a tutorial she found on YouTube. She also decorated the house with gore like swollen eyes, another tutorial she found on YouTube. Mad. Mad, indeed.

As thankful I am to YouTube for saving my pocket from spending on extra-curricular activities she enjoys discovering on her own, just how safe is YouTube for my child?

I tried to look that up on the Internet and guess what, the very first article that came up about it has a porn video ad right at the bottom of the page. Imagine my horror at the site of that. Here’s an article telling me how to make my child’s YouTube searches safe, then there’s a video ad showing illicit images. Ironic, all right.

But I cannot tell my daughter to get off the Internet. YouTube is the only site she practically uses as I forbid her to use other social media sites as of the moment.

According to studies, students [from 8 to 17 years old] that are born with technology have the highest Internet usage among all demographic groups. They use the net for school, research, entertainment [music, sports and games], connecting with friends, news, and keeping up with trends. Living proof is my daughter, always curious and seeking YouTube for answers. In fact next to TV, the Internet is the next medium this generation spends most of their time on. It heavily influences their behavior and decisions.

My daughter is only 10 and YouTube has a recommended age limit of 13 years old. But with this curious generation, how can I keep my daughter from seeing video ads of pornography when she is innocently searching for other things?

Thank you Internet gods for the Safety Mode. The Safety Mode gives users the option to choose not to see “mature” or offensive content. When you activate this, videos that have been age-restricted will not show up on the video search.

While this may help, it is still best to keep an eye on them while they browse through the Internet. It is best to keep the computer in the living room, a common area where everyone can be there with them. Also, we try to watch YouTube with her as much as we can, and when we’re not at home, I always try to convince my trusted help or cousins to guide her through it.

The best barrier to safety, however, is to keep an open line of communication with our kids. I try to be the number 1 source of information to my daughter, whatever it’s about.