I've heard about platforms like TikTok and Twitch and I want to understand how they work, how they are different from YouTube and how I can make sure my child is using them safely and enjoyably.
Sharing video online is a main part of many social media platforms, apps and online services.
Videos can be shared with a limited group of users or may be publicly available for everyone to view, access and download.
People create content (usually from their mobile device) and then live stream it or upload it so it can be shared to either a limited group of people or to anyone.
MOST USED VIDEO SHARING PLATFORMS WORLDWIDE
YouTube 2.2 billion
Vimeo 1.6 million
IGTV by Instagram 1.3 billion
TikTok 1 billion
Twitch 40 million
DailyMotion 300 million
These figures change all the time, and the pandemic has increased the number of users very quickly for almost all apps.
Most video sharing apps do not allow users who are younger than 13 (although there are now some platforms that are designed for younger users such as YouTube Kids).
WHAT'S GREAT ABOUT THEM?
You can learn new things and share ideas. There are a huge range of user generated videos that range from educational to entertaining, plus videos from recognised and trusted sources.
News about products such as games is often released first on video. Video reviews of products by users are often one of the most authentic sources of information.
Video allows you to stay up to date with current events. Many breaking news stories are shared via video first.
Video sharing allows for collaboration opportunities that previously would have only been possible in a face to face format.
Making videos is fun - and provides a creative outlet for children.
WHAT ARE SOME DOWNSIDES?
Unauthorised sharing of videos. Once videos that your children create are online they can be taken by others or repurposed.
Inappropriate content. On streaming sites videos are often live and there are no filters to protect people from what they see.
Privacy. As video is often taken in the home it's easy to inadvertently reveal personal information.
Reputational damage. Video published online is permanently available (or easily copied). Children - and everyone - should be aware that this might affect their reputation later in life.
WHAT QUESTIONS SHOULD I ASK?
Are there age restrictions?
Who can watch videos?
Can the people who made the app use videos that my child creates in other ways?
What kind of content appears on this platform?
Can I control what my child will see?
Where can I and my child get help if we need it?
What happens if I want a video taken down?
VIDEO SHARING APPS - Tiktok
TikTok is one of the most successful video sharing apps - and it's growing all the time.
But there have been lots of concerns raised about TikTok - how it uses your data, inappropriate content on the platform and the amount of time people are spending using it.
But, just like other video sharing apps, there are some great stories of TikTok being used for good. For example, Paige Layle, a 19-year-old woman who lives with autism who used TikTok to explain the disorder in women.
It wasn’t until she stumbled upon another TikTok video that featured people making fun of those living with autism that she decided to make her educational videos. Each of the videos focuses on a particular topic about autism. Click the image to visit TikTok and play this video.
@paigelayle on TikTok
To get the most from TikTok, it's wise to understand how to control who sees the videos that your child creates.
TikTok has a number of privacy settings. You should make sure to turn on all privacy settings for accounts your children are using so only people you know can interact with videos. That means either setting up a private account or changing the settings for comments, duets, reactions, and messages to Friends instead of Everyone.
You can learn about these settings in this video from Howfinity on YouTube.
VIDEO SHARING APPS - the logan paul story
On December 31, 2017, YouTube vlogger Logan Paul uploaded a vlog what is now known as the Japanese Suicide Forest Video to his YouTube channel.
The video was shot in the Aokigahara forest in Japan, which has become notorious for people committing suicide. Paul is seen laughing and making jokes as he and his team discover the body of a suicide victim in the forest.
There was considerable backlash against Paul about this video. He took the video down and on posted an apology video.
After the incident, Paul argued that he makes his content for an audience of his peers and not for children, whose parents should be monitoring their media consumption. But his primary audience consists largely of young boys in the 8-12 age group, and influencers like Logan Paul are role models for younger audiences who are vulnerable to seeing this kind of content.
Although YouTube could have terminated Paul's account, it tried to avoid doing so using the argument that they would contravene their democratic right to freedom of speech and the consumer's democratic right to freedom of information. It may be the case that it is in YouTube's interests to host controversial content as this not only attracts likes, but also dislikes, and the more outrageous the content, the more people will view it.