I love YouTube. I can spend hours and hours (and hours) there. It's almost as big a black hole for me as Wikipedia. Oh, and facebook. I forgot about facebook. Geez, there sure are enough places to spend your time on the internet, aren't there? And I wonder why I never get anything done around the house!
But back to YouTube. It's just so darn fun and – yes – useful, even. Can't decide what movie to go to? Watch trailers for all the new releases on YouTube. Reminiscing about a favourite old TV show or movie? Watch it on YouTube. Your brother-in-law is raving about the new Virgin Atlantic 25th Anniversary TV ads airing only in the UK? Find them on YouTube!
And then there are the hilarious "normal people" videos you can find. They really put the "you" in YouTube. A few that I've enjoyed are jamesatwar, vlogbrothers, and anything involving lego animation. And just because I love you, here's "Hey Harry Potter" from jamesatwar. I nearly peed my pants watching this one:
Lately I found myself on Weird Al Yankovic's YouTube channel, and spent several hours there watching his hilarious and actually quite clever music vids. My personal favourites are Amish Paradise and White and Nerdy. (I love that the yellow t-shirt he's wearing in the comic book store says "Carl Sagan is my homeboy"! And the line about Kirk and Picard? And the Donny Osmond cameo? GENIUS. Another cool cameo in this video: Seth Green.)
Anyway. I just happened to be watching White and Nerdy the other day when my eight year-old daughter walked by the computer. She wasn't too impressed, but then she noticed on Weird Al's channel that he has a video called Jurassic Park. As she is a dino-maniac, and Jurassic Park is her favourite movie, she really wanted to see it. I figured it couldn't be any scarier or gorier than the movie (and the video is shot entirely in claymation, after all), so I let her.
She loved it. She also decided to sit down and browse YouTube herself. Which I let her do. I was close by, I could hear what was going on (mainly Super Webkinz. I won't embed it…it's too torturous. And I thought The Adventures of Shark Boy and Lava Girl was the worst movie ever made!). It wasn't until she went to a friend's house and wanted to show her the Super Webkinz videos (yes, there is a collection of five of them) that there was a problem.
You see, her friend's not allowed on YouTube. Parental supervision or not, this eight year-old girl is not allowed to watch YouTube. Never mind that one of their classmates is actually on YouTube (in the interest of protecting the kid's privacy, I won't link to the video); this little girl is not allowed to watch.
When I found out I felt all embarrassed and ashamed and negligent and bad motherish.
So I'm here, in blogland, to ask: am I overpermissive? Is YouTube an okay diversion for eight year-olds? Or am I some slovenly lazy and careless neglector? Be honest…tell me what you really think.
Oh, but one little note: if you only have a two year-old, you actually may not want to speculate on what you'll let them do when they're eight. Honestly. I'm only lookin' out for you. You see, I was full of fine plans for organic, vegan, TV-spurning, Waldorf-educated children, but then my kids went and got their own personalities (sheesh!), and they also got all corrupted by their school friends (whose parents let my kids watch Bratz at their houses! Sin!) and life got busy and hard and, well, you know the rest: I ended up letting my eight year-old watch videos on YouTube. So I'm just saying.
Okay, rant over. Now let me know: to YouTube or not to YouTube?