Online video

Promoting safe watching and sharing of online videos

YouTube PhoneAsk a room full of modern children what they’d like to do when they’re older, and at least one of them will say that they want to be a professional YouTuber. A few years ago, there was no such thing - but nowadays, professional YouTubers are a new form of celebrity and making a living producing online video is more than viable. Inspired by their online role-models, and made easy through phone apps and cameras, children are experimenting with creating and publishing their own videos.

As professionals, it’s our job to help ensure that children remain safe online, particularly when using online video services. Denying access to these services won’t teach young people to stay safe online; instead, we must teach discrete knowledge and skills.

Online video services
YouTube is by far the most popular provider of online video, but other services, such as Vimeo and Dailymotion, offer the same. Free to use, and originally set up as a video-dating website, YouTube makes its money through advertising and has around 300 hours of video uploaded to its platform every minute. It allows users to comment on each other’s videos, (see our recent article on live streaming) and enter partnerships in order to increase audience size. The vast majority of video sharing websites, including YouTube, are designed for 13+ year olds.

Watching videos: what are the risks?
Due to the openness of the Internet and despite the work of real-life moderators and the removal of videos that breach policies, young people may accidentally stumble across or find videos that are inappropriate, offensive or pornographic. Children may also come across videos that promote violence, bad language, particular viewpoints and religious opinions. Young people will also come across advertising, some of which may be targeted at adults.

A key part of watching online video is the social interaction through commenting; this therefore means that young people may be exposed to language that is unsuitable or that promotes bullying.

Children should be encouraged to report or talk to an adult about any content that they feel is inappropriate; in doing this, they are asking for support and advice. A young person may also need adult intervention if they viewed something that particularly upset or worried them.

Sharing video: what are the risks?
Publishing video online has been made very easy and most modern smart phones have tools build-in for this.

Before publishing a video, young people should be taught to consider whether:

  • The video reflects them positively (will they be proud of it in years to come?);
  • The video is respectful (could anyone find it offensive or upsetting?);
  • They’ve protected their private information within it;
  • Everyone in the video is happy for it to appear online;
  • They want to share the video with the world, their friends, or keep it private.
  • Children should also be taught how to respond to comments on their videos and what to do with comments that are upsetting or those written by trolls:

  • To not respond, since responses can fuel the fire;
  • To report or flag such messages where possible;
  • To save any evidence of online bullying, as this will be useful later;
  • To block users where needed;
  • To gain support from a trusted adult.
  • For more information, visit

    Written by Matt Lovegrove on June 14, 2018 10:45

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