What are your thoughts on letting young children watch YouTube videos? Do you let your own children watch YouTube? Or maybe use YouTube clips when teaching? Are there benefits to watching Youtube Videos?*
Love it or hate it, young children appear to be drawn to watching YouTube videos. It must seem quite magical to children, that our phones, tablets, computers can all show them cartoons at the click of a button and tap of a screen! Not to mention the almost infinite choice of cartoons, songs, nursery rhymes and toy videos that are available to them.
But before we blame the kids for this apparent rise in little ones watching YouTube clips on phones…let’s be honest, its not just children that love the convenience of YouTube Videos. There’s plenty of parents (and I’ll admit to me being included in this) who secretly and guilty love YouTube too. We love the ease of it and how we can entertain our kids (and keep them quiet) in tricky situations. It’s the power it gives us to quickly be able to distract and entertain our kids by using YouTube videos on our phones. Be it when we need to keep littles ones sat still, during long journeys or doctors waiting rooms! And whilst we may feel guilty that we are letting them watch cartoons on our phones, sometimes at that moment in time, the benefits seem to outweigh the negatives.
So what’s the problem?
The main problem, in my opinion, isn’t that they are watching YouTube (as long as it is supervised), but it’s what they are actually watching and the period of time they are spending watching it.
Many of the programmes I’ve seen young children choose to watch are long, repetitive and provide very little educational value. And trying to find cartoons that the kids can learn something from but they are also willing to watch is no easy task. Let alone short clips that they can dip in and out of!
This week, thankfully, I came across a new Youtube only channel, What is it TV that does exactly that, provides very short, fun and engaging educational videos for young children. Their choice of entertaining sound effects and cartoon images ensure the videos capture the interest of the child whilst the educational content helps support their learning! They currently have individual clips on each letter of the alphabet.
The videos on each letter of the alphabet are beautifully simplistic, with white backgrounds, individual pictures and limited text. Making their goal of helping children to learn the pronunciation and use of each letter easily achievable.
I personally thought the videos would be ideal for children learning to speak and for children who are starting to understand the alphabet. They are brilliant for this, for a number of reasons. Firstly, they use a very clear, easy to understand voice that asks the question, gives the letter of the alphabet and identifies the object– this supports language acquisition. They also cleverly use a limited choice of words with a lot of repetition of phrases, this reduces the number of words the child is expected to understand and learn, further aiding their understanding. Lastly they include the words written on the screen whilst they are being spoken, helping children to make links between written and spoken words.
I’m a firm believer in allowing children to use and benefit from all our wonderful technologies, like YouTube, but in moderation. What’s fantastic about these clips is they are ideal for children to dip in and out of as they are lovely and short and snappy.
And it’s not just parents that can benefit from these YouTube clips. From a teaching perspective , What is It TV clips would be ideal to share with a class on the interactive whiteboard. They would make a brilliant, engaging hook for sparking a child’s interest when introducing individual letters of the alphabet. I can see the sound effects and choice of images being a real hit with young children.
One thing that did concern me was that there’s only one series of videos on their YouTube channel at the moment, so we’d run out of clips to watch soon.
But I needn’t have worried as I’ve been informed on their exciting future plans for the YouTube channel. This series is just the start. They are working on providing some additional aids to support the show, such as a sign language version – which is great. They are also currently working on another series ‘A-Z of Food’. So it’s definitely a channel to subscribe to and keep an eye out for new content!