Ok parents. I’m diving into this creepy ‘MOMO on YouTube’ thing that’s got all our panties in a tangle. Was it a hoax? Was it real? At this point it doesn’t matter… what is was though, was a wake up call.
My fiery take featured on HLN’s On the Story:
My quick & dirty: STOP letting little kids watch YouTube!
This isn’t sancti-mommy preaching, this is common sense. And, it’s doable — my kids, 8 & 7 do not watch YouTube, particularly because I once watched one video of JoJo Siwa with them (pouring juice on her head and acting like she was juiced up on drugs herself) and was beyond infuriated that someone so obnoxious and talentless was fooling kids into thinking her kind of behavior is cool… We all had a great and semi-alarmed laugh, but yeah, I pointed to that one JoJo video and told my kids the truth right then and there — how the majority of content on YouTube is stupid people doing stupid things, and how we will not waste time watching others do stupid things.
There’s a place in life for YouTube (hi, I work in digital media), but I personally don’t believe there’s a place for it in young kids’ lives outside of educational/tutoring videos. No child should be in a room somewhere (with headphones?!) watching videos that auto-populate and play without us being there with them.
We’re raising kids. The internet is for adults — for us to teach our kids to manage at age-appropriate times. Don’t even get me started about the American Academy of Pediatric’s research on delayed development and toddler screentime…
A choice I made years ago, when my girls were toddlers, was that they wouldn’t have their own tablets, they wouldn’t ‘watch my phone’ if they got restless while waiting in public somewhere or in a restaurant… I told them then and I still them now: “Look at the world around you or invent something to play — you don’t need a screen in your face.”
I assure you, it’s doable. It CAN be done.
I’ve seen so many posts citing parents’ ‘shock about YouTube content.’ (Please stop.) None of this is shocking, none of this is news — I’ve done dozens of segments about how social media & YouTube is not for kids under 13 (according to app rules), how YouTube kids does not have surefire firewalls, how WE (parents) need to pay better attention & educate ourselves about how all this stuff works and not fall prey to what everyone else is doing re screens (“it’s a part of our time!”). No kids ‘need’ screens (unless schools are assigning homework on them) and kids under the age of 13 (ie: not in high school) really have no business with a smart phone.
So many parents refuse to open their eyes to the crap this kid-screentime-phenomenon is… stop the act already. Mom up. Our ‘shock’ makes us look like a stupid generation of parents — and we’re NOT. We’re the rule-makers and we know what kinds of unsavory things happen online — so stop letting our little kids online.
Would you send your kids into seedy neighborhoods and be confident they’d stay completely safe because the police are (in theory) nearby and regulating the safety of that neighborhood? (No, I bet you wouldn’t. I wouldn’t.)
Don’t give the screen to the screaming toddlers and 6 year olds. Let them cry, they’ll get over it. No matter how many parental control apps one slaps on, phones/screens for kids cannot be regulated in ways to keep everyone completely safe.
Yes, kids need to learn to navigate tech. No, kids should not be sheltered so that they cannot cope with temptation & frightening content. Yes, kids need US to talk about this, set rules, guide them through this new digital world. HOWEVER: Kids under the age of 13 are just too young for all this stuff.
The internet is an adult place — it’s time to stop sending our kids there because we crave a bit more peace & quiet.