I was interviewed by the Australian Women’s Weekly this week about trends in Australian children’s uses of technology. My own research (in family’s homes, childcare centres and schools) shows that one big trend is the enormous influence YouTube is having on children’s play and learning.
Research internationally shows that YouTube is the most used website by children of all ages. It is contributing to a cultural shift in children’s play, interests and learning which in some ways can be compared to the impact TV had on children when it was first introduced years ago. From my research, I’m seeing trends in the ways children use YouTube. They include:
1) Children use YouTube to find out any and all the information they need. They don’t read about it, they watch it. For example, I was recently in a home gathering data and a ten year old girl showed me some YouTube videos she watched to help her learn to build her own blog site. The site she created was brilliant.
2) Children watch others play on YouTube. A newer trend is for children to watch YouTube videos that show other people playing play popular tech games. This is possibly a new form of play that is emerging for children. For example Stampy is a child friendly Minecraft channel which depicts two friends playing Minecraft together. In some months Stampy’s videos are watched more than 200 million times! PewDiePie in another YouTube sensation that kids love. He adds funny narration to his game play videos.
3) Children watch YouTube as an alternative to TV. The choice of content it offers and the freedom in when you watch it, is unmatched. Children consider TV to be very restrictive in that you primarily have to watch something when the network decides to air it. YouTube has also recently launched YouTube kids in an effort to capture the younger market. This offers content for the younger audience along with adult safety controls.
Many children I have spoken to say that YouTube is a central resource for their entertainment and learning. Its influence on children’s development is important and deserves attention.