I have a nephew who is just a year old. He doesn’t speak more than baba-mama-gaga yet but what he can do with the prowess of an adult is swiping videos left and right, up and down on YouTube. He can watch hours of non-stop YouTube videos of animated characters if left unattended. I am sure, he will be easily adept at using Tinder too. I know of people whose young kids are easily pacified if given a mobile phone or laptop with YouTube already on. They also know how to ‘skip ad’ after 5 seconds on YouTube. A few years ago, the same thing used to happen with cartoons on TV but on a TV you can’t swipe up and down and click on a fancier video so that didn’t really catch up.
Do you also feel that YouTube works as a third-parent if you may, and works pretty well at it? There is no kid I have seen in recent time who is away from this culture. By kid I mean, children below 5 years of age. Of course, after that age, they are anyways uncontrollable and might also own mobile phones of their own, who knows!
It might come as only an opinion by an outside observer like me who don’t have kids of my own yet (what do I know of how to handle kids!?), but even I can guess that kids nowadays are to be kept busy and quiet when they are given a mobile phone easily, and not by telling stories, playing along, or reading books. (This also works on adults BTW.)
I saw a video (on YouTube of course), about the differences between 2 sets of kids. One set had been given a mobile phone to play with for more than 6 months. Another set had access only to physical games of building blocks and stuff. Then they were both given tasks like walk straight, make a building out of blocks, and some other hand-eye coordination games. The results were both expected and unexpected. Cynics and critics of kids with technology access would have guessed that kids using mobile phones would fare poorly when it came to physical tasks. However, both sets of kids were almost equally good. Surely, the kids who used to play with blocks were able to make a higher building with more blocks as compared to the tech-kids, the tech-kids had developed better hand-eye coordination to solve puzzles and finding things on a chart. Overall, it was inconclusive to say that tech-kids and normal kids were much different. But I would like to side with the cynics on this one. The tested group was very small and I believe that kids who will have such technology-driven pacifiers will be more difficult to please when these things are taken away from them. These kids would lack the power of imagination because they already have worlds they can touch, feel and see. They would have become addicted to them as they would have grown up more and there will be a time when they would find difficult to deal with the real world. Take our own example who have seen days of no Internet to the dial-up modem to broadband and now with smartphones with 4G. How much have we become dependent on technology ourselves that it was beyond fathomable a decade ago! And this change is so sudden that coming generations wouldn’t know how it was just 5-6 years before their birth.
I still feel that books with pictures, physical toys and games, good old storytelling and letting the kids imagine, we can raise our kids much better than YouTube. Nobody has time nowadays to cater to their kids because we ourselves are engrossed in those screens. Again, I don’t have to handle kids personally so maybe YouTube is the way to raise kids. But I request young parents to watch the below video and make your own judgment.