YouTubing With the Kids

BlogHer Original Post

I'll admit it; we're YouTube junkies in this family.  As I recall, it all started a few years ago when my husband thought it might be fun to show my Star-Wars-loving young sons the video to Weird Al Yankovich's spoof about Anakin Skywalker.  Then a friend showed my oldest son the flute-playing beat-boxer.  The deal was sealed for good with Peanut Butter Jelly Time, easily the most annoying song ever created, and yet my sons (and, I'll confess their mother) cannot look away.  Now we all seem to find the phrase "peanut butter jelly with a baseball bat" creeping into our conversations at completely random times.

Plenty of other families are developing inside family jokes from funny YouTube video clips.  Angela of Diapers and Stilettos writes about her own introduction to Charlie and the Unicorn:

When I first watched it I thought, "This is the lamest thing ever." I almost got up and walked away. But I wanted to see the video the boys had been quoting ceaselessly for the past few weeks. And somehow watching it with them made me laugh. And then laugh more. And then we watched it again. And now I quote it with them.

So, be warned. But, be relevant.

YouTube clips are usually pretty short, of course; this can make it tricky if you have a young toddler who can't re-click "play".  Jenni of Peace and Carrots stumbled onto a solution for this problem:

Then I discovered YouTube's playlist feature. I was able to put together a playlist of Wendy's favorite clips, and get about twenty minutes of continuous Wiggly action! I set her up with the laptop on the kitchen floor last night, and it was fantastic!

LomaGirl posted this video to her blog, under the heading of "Bedtime Story Fun".  Not a DIY Life reports that she has used YouTube as a tool for teaching her baby sign language.

What about the objectionable preview pictures that pop up after a video is over?  That's a real issue for parents, and it's the reason I only let my kids on YouTube under close supervision.  Kim of Gray Matters found a way for parents (who use Firefox) to block those previewsChristy Matte of About.com has another practical way to keep at least some level of control:

When watching videos, adjust your browser size (by dragging the bar at the bottom up and down) so that just the video is showing. Then you won't have to worry about inappropriate comments and suggested movies.

Other family-friendly alternatives to YouTube are popping up, to help parents navigate this problem of questionable content.  Tangle, KideoPlayer, KidsTube, KidVideos, and (for younger kids) TotLol are some alternatives.  Parents can also choose browsers, such as Glubble and KidZui, which have been designed specifically for kids.

Just for grins, leave the links to your famiy's favorite YouTube video in the comments section!

Shannon Lowe is a BlogHer contributing editor (Mommy/Family). She also blogs at Rocks In My Dryer and The Parenting Post.

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