YouTube has slowly become the world's babysitter

It may be annoying but baby shark isn't harmful. But not all content on YouTube is.
SUPPLIED/YOUTUBE
It may be annoying but baby shark isn't harmful. But not all content on YouTube is.

OPINION: If you ask a child what app they liked the best, they'd probably say YouTube.

Videos on the app get millions of views a day, and many of those come from children.

YouTube has slowly become the world's babysitter and the go-to site for toddlers through to teens.

But parents need to take care about letting their children spend too much time on the popular video platform, because this isn't like letting your kids watch Play School. Videos on YouTube are designed to be all-consuming and to always keep kids wanting more.

Parents and educators lamented the arrival of after-school TV shows in the 1970s and 1980s, raising concerns about kids spending too much time watching television and being exposed to advertising.

READ MORE:
YouTube makeup trends that don't translate into real life
Almost no-one is making a living on YouTube
YouTube advertising crackdown puts some creators out of work

But TV shows are quite different from YouTube. Shows only last a set amount of time, it's clear what is and what isn't advertising and they have to meet certain broadcasting standards.

On YouTube anything goes and it can go for hours and hours. While a video may end, another one starts up straight away, or kids click on the next one in the queue, a similar mechanism used with slot machines.

Videos on YouTube are designed to be all-consuming and to always keep kids wanting more. And this can be a problem.
12RF
Videos on YouTube are designed to be all-consuming and to always keep kids wanting more. And this can be a problem.

Also, advertising is more subtle and often woven into the videos or whole channels are dedicated to buying things.

There are now content farms set up to create videos targeted at kids. They use fast pacing, bright colours and catchy music to create an addictive experience.

So what's a parent to do? First, if your children are young delete YouTube and install YouTube Kids. It's not perfect but it's less likely your kids will find videos with adult themes. The full YouTube app is rated 17-plus so kids should be supervised when using it.

Next, use settings within Android or iOS to limit the time YouTube can be used. While you could completely cut your child off from YouTube, having a set time will let them enjoy some of the content available without overindulging.

YouTube is actually a great app and has some amazing videos available. However, like social media apps, it's not regulated or well monitored so there is a lot of content that is not suitable for children.

No child should have unfettered access to any app or device and YouTube is no different.

Stuff