Make it stop

Banning YouTube Is More A Punishment For Me, But I’m Doing It Anyway

It’s the only sure-fire kid-distractor in my repertoire, but I’m done with all the terrible stuff my kids have picked up.

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I hate Youtube. Let’s just start there. Well, let me rephrase that — I hate Youtube for my kids. I actually enjoy browsing it for myself. I watch photography tutorials and home renovation hacks. Honestly, I haven’t looked at assembly instructions in years, because I just go straight to Youtube and watch a step-by-step video. It’s incredible. So while I won’t be deleting the app from my personal devices anytime soon, for the rest of the house, I’m finally putting my foot down. Hell, I already banned YouTube Shorts earlier this year; that was just the introduction to my new YouTube ban.

To be clear, this is definitely more of a punishment for me, because I am putting my foot down in the middle of summer. Youtube is the only sure-fire kid-distractor in my repertoire. So when I need a minute (or 20) of quiet to make a phone call, do some work, or just catch my breath, Youtube affords me that luxury. But at this point, the risks are surely outweighing the rewards. Despite my effort to create scrolling boundaries and rules, they almost always end up landing on some version of internet inappropriateness, especially my 8 and 10-year-old sons. Because the internet is the Wild West, and Youtube is every kid’s untrained stallion transporting them into limitless chaos.

First, there is the language. I know I can avoid this with Youtube Kids, but sadly, my boys are over that. They are scrolling mostly for sports highlights and gaming videos, most of which are soundtracked to various hip-hop songs much more suitable for adult ears. And it’s usually not until they start singing under their breath at the dinner table or in the car that I realize they have been privy to endearing phrases like “b*tch ass” or “titty sucker.” Seems that when I naively agreed to letting them watch “touchdown highlights” I overlooked the fact that these compilations might be set to explicit music with phrases they most definitely don’t understand the gravity of but might repeat. Wonderful.

Then there’s what my husband likes to call the “talkers.” I understand watching people do stuff: attempt a trick shot, crochet a blanket, play the guitar, whatever! But my kids stumble upon so many videos of people just narrating stuff. They narrate the video games they are playing, the sports they are watching, and the Pokemon cards they are pulling. And there’s so much trash talking and annoying chatter, both of which I swear are spilling over into my kids’ lives as I listen to them one-upping each other with their everyday banter. I’m not saying I’m sure their Youtube consumption is causing it, but I can’t imagine that it’s helping.

And of course, the biggest issue is the actual surfing. Like, when I agree to let my son watch an NFL highlight video, I just assume he will be watching one long montage of epic catches and tackles and whatever else football players do. But this generation of kids, all experts in attention ping-pong, end up clicking “‘next” before they even realize they’ve done it. So I pass by and look over their shoulder 10 minutes later and they’ve already made their way from “touchdown celebrations” all the way to what looks like “shirtless bottle-flipping while swearing.” It’s limitless, Ferrari-speed consumption with no brakes, and I’m out.

So here we are, two weeks into my big “fun sponge moment” as my kids call it, and so far so good. They continue to beg for Youtube everyday and sometimes “forget” and stumble on it “by accident,” but we are surviving the change. And while it makes them super (and I mean SUPER) mad at me right now, I know it is worth it.

Samm is an ex-lawyer and mom of four who swears a lot. Find her on Instagram @sammbdavidson.

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