How to Talk to Kids about Being a Social Media Star

This podcast provides key adults with what to do or say when a child says they want to start a youtube channel and beging uploading videos. Dr. Robyn Silverman’s guest, Devorah Heitner, talks about creating a plan, key questions to ask, points to consider and how to cope with unwanted followers or ugly comments. Is creating a Youtube channel right for your child? Listen in and find out.

A few weeks ago, I was on Nightline talking about the possible repurcussions of allowing your child to become an internet star—especially as a child becomes a brand that is thought of as offensive or jarring—or as a child becomes targeted by trolls and comments get ugly. But becoming an internet star has become easier for kids especially through the medium of Youtube, an accessible platform that is open to anyone as opposed to the cut-throat, slim-chance competitive nature of Hollywood that is only available to a small percentage of the chosen few. So what happens when a child says they want to be a youtube star? And what happens if your child and some friends want to upload some videos for all to see? When is too young? When is too much? Should we allow it at all? For the answers to these questions and how to discuss it all with our kids is one of our past guests, my friend Devorah Heitner.

Devorah Heitner, PhD is the author of Screenwise: Helping Kids Thrive (and Survive) in Their Digital World and the founder of Raising Digital Natives. She passionately believes in the power of mentoring kids in creating a positive tech culture and she is delighted to be raising her own digital native. She’s also super cool and actually has an article out about some things to consider if your child wants to be a youtube star in the Washington Post—and we’re going to dig right and flesh out the information so we know how to have this discussion about fame, social media and what to look out for if your child brings the idea of putting videos up on social media to your attention—best to be prepared, right?

The podcast provides:

  • What kids should and should not be watching on youtube
  • The key questions to ask when your child says s/he wants to upload videos on youtube or become a “youtube star.”
  • What kind of plan we should be making with our kids if they want t post videos on youtube or social media.
  • How to talk about money making on youtube
  • How to discuss the price of fame with our kids
  • The downfall of pushing your child to post videos or posting videos of your child when they aren’t ready for that
  • What we allow our children to post
  • How to deal with comments
  • How to use “training wheels” to pilot videos
  • How an internet identity can become problematic
  • Other internet video-posting mediums we should be discussing
  • What to do if feedback is negative or if our child is unhappy with the feedback s/he is receiving
  • Dealing with unwanted followers
  • What we should be checking in about with our children once they’ve begun posting.

Important Messages:

  • Know what your children are watching on youtube.
  • Ask questions to find out what your kids are attracted to on youtube—and what they really don’t like.
  • How does what they like and what they want to do align with their age and your values? How well do they understand the safety of videos?
  • Discuss editorial considerations and if each video needs to be screened by you before it’s uploaded.
  • Ask your children to write a proposal for you.
  • Kids may be satiated by simply sharing videos with the family.
  • If your child has a youtube channel, make sure they have a lot of support—especially if they are dealing with sensitive topic areas.
  • The public presence for someone like Zephrous Todd is a conflicted issue for him as he identifies with being a male now but grew up as a girl in the public eye (Super Awesome Silvia).
  • Some goals around fame are good to reserve for when your child is an adult.
  • We don’t need to film every good deed our children are doing!
  • It’s important to give your child permission to stop doing videos that are making him/her famous—even if your child is successful.
  • With younger children, make sure your child is recording or uploading videos in a public space.
  • You can moderate comments.
  • Get rid of identifiers in videos.
  • Pick your battles- is it a real problem for your children to be watching something that are just jokes you don’t think is funny or something inappropriate or violent?
  • Are your children watching something because they are curious about finding out information that they don’t know?

Notable Quotables:

  • “If your kids want a youtube channel, have the jump through some hoops first. We don’t want them to share videos right away, we want them to consider a plan. If this idea discourages them, then maybe they don’t really want to do the work to have a youtube channel.”
  • “I think it’s really important to look at the downsides of trying to make money on youtube. It’s really an ongoing job.”
  • “The more vulnerable your child is to social pressures, the more you have to recognize that posting videos on youtube is letting them make themselves vulnerable to the world.”
  • “It’s truly impossible to know at 12 or 15 years old, how our 25 year old or 40 year old self will feel about the image that we created when we were young.”
  • “While the difference between me at 37 and me at 43 might not be that great the difference of me at 13 and 18 might be tremendous—so even a 5 year transition in identity can be huge for young people.”
  • “Is it worth it to become known as a nine year old or a 13 year old when the 17 year old who is applying to college might feel very differently about the choices that were made just a few years before.”
  • “We live in a time of somewhat diminished privacy where our children are a little bit more public and famous than we were. The number of kids who have some public reputation as they enter adulthood is greater.”
  • “When you’re a kid, you should be free to iterate your identity.”
  • “Many really accomplished people are only known in their fields. What you want to do is be really good at what you do and really care about what you do. “
  • “It can be even a greater good to do something kind without any recognition.”
  • Teach your children to ask; ‘what am I contributing?’ when they are posting. What if a four year old saw you do this? Would they be making a dangerous choice?”
  • “Teach your kids to be choosy about their contacts. If someone makes a comment that they don’t like, they can unfollow them. Having followers for the sake followers isn’t a worthwhile goal.”