How YouTube is impacting kids in the modern-day world

Posted at 7:03 PM, Nov 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-19 09:34:05-05

CLEVELAND — Every single minute, more than 100 hours of video is uploaded to YouTube.

Over one billion users of all ages are consuming clips.

The amount of young people, like Reagan and Avery Purdy, that watch those videos every day has more than doubled in just the last four years.

“YouTube, they love YouTube. Every time I watch them they are watching something I have never seen before,” said Ben Purdy.

Purdy often finds himself confused by the content that leaves his daughters captivated.

“Why the heck are you wasting your time watching someone else do something that you could do right now if you wanted,” said Purdy.

Among the girls top choices, blind bag videos.

“Like watching different people open them. I don't understand that one, but they're obsessed with watching people open toys,” said Val Purdy, their mom. "They're learning how to use their imagination in another way. It's just different than when we were kids."

When it comes to the most popular YouTube channels for children, is there a secret sauce to success?

Neil Olstad, Bryan & Neil: "We don't think - hey what do kids like kind of thing,” said Koo Koo Kanga Roo's Neil Olstad

With millions of views and nearly 95,000 subscribers, the group songs and videos clearly resonate with children.

"I think kids like that it doesn't maybe feel like as targeted, it doesn't feel like we thought long and hard as to why we think you're going to like this,” said Olstad.

Olstad says it all comes down to originality. Take their latest release for example.

“It’s a song about glitter, we're floating through the sea of glitter and there's a glitter monster in it,” said Olstad. "We are successful because we are different. We are successful because we try to push the boundaries in some areas."

For the children consuming hours of these videos every week, what’s going on in their minds?

“When I come in they are watching other people on YouTube and it's a strange concept for parents to get, but it is common. The same reward circuit in the brain will go off whether you're watching a kid play a game or you're playing the game yourself,” said pediatric psychologist Emily Mudd. “Parents naturally think well why don't you just go out and do that versus watching it on the screen?"

It’s a common question that parents can actually ask themselves.

"Every time I question why are you watching someone else do something and I think about myself on a Sunday at 1 o'clock and I'm watching someone else do something too, I'm watching the Browns. I'm watching Baker throw and Chubb run and OBJ catch and I think is it really that different,” said Purdy.

Mudd says adding YouTube viewing is also helping children for their identities. However, using technology to shape them has its downfalls.

“When a child is in front of a screen the screen is doing all the work for their brain and their brain is not developing emotionally, socially, cognitively,” said Mudd.

Mudd suggests children get plenty of time playing outside and that parents take a mentoring not monitoring approach to YouTube.

"There's targeted ads and kids can't understand advertisements, so talking to them about advertisements what it looks like,” said Mudd.

Even though both Reagan and Avery can only access videos via YouTube Kids, their parents still try to keep an eye on them.

“They have the ability to look at possibly millions of videos and if we aren't hovering and we can't be there all the time and we don't know what they're watching and that is a concern,” said Purdy.

YouTube Kids is what a company spokesperson says parents should use if they want their children to watch videos independently, adding YouTube is not a site for children under the age of 13.

With more young eyeballs watching online videos than ever before, the Purdy's just accept this as a way of life.

“What’s fun for the kids, I think, is that they make a big deal out of something that isn't really a big deal,” said Purdy. "Sweeping the floor is on YouTube and how to dig a hole. When we were kids we just dug holes and our parents yelled at us, but now it's a Youtube video and Reagan wants to dig a hole and show the YouTube universe how to dig a hole."