For every foul-language, inappropriate, gross video that exists on YouTube there is also a powerful, educational, and collaborative video as well. Rather than “protecting” children from these videos, we should be helping to teach then the strategies to avoid them. Blocking will only build curiosity with children, especially older children. There is also a strong need to hold children accountable. If we teach them strategies to avoid these videos but they choose to spend their time watching them, then they should suffer a consequence. They can have their privileges banned rather than keeping the tool out of the hands of other students who could actually use the tool for amazing educational opportunities.
I completely understand the hesitance of districts to ban YouTube. In our hypersensitive society, schools and districts don’t want to deal with public, backlash from parents whose children might be exposed to the inappropriate material on YouTube, even though most of the children can access the material on their smart phones, iPads, and cable channels at home.
I strongly feel that schools and families should work together to educate our children on navigating the digital world while also being good digital citizens. Schools should grant access to YouTube and then work together with the school community to this digital tool in productive and powerful ways. I will close with an observation by Donovan, Dowdy, Holladsworth (2011): “It is going to require involvement without overreaction to problems or oversight of potential risks. Parents have to be more involved and students must become the role models. Students will need guidance, accountability, and the opportunities to make mistakes and learn from them. Media specialists must become advocates for this delicate process of shaping a digital culture in collaboration with administrators, teachers, and technology professionals. It will take a village”.
Jonea, T., & Cuthrell, K. (2011). YouTube: Educational Potentials and Pitfalls. Computers In The Schools, 28(1), 75-85. doi:10.1080/07380569.2011.553149
Hollandsworth, R., Dowdy, L., & Donovan, J. (2011). Digital Citizenship in K-12: It Takes a Village. Techtrends: Linking Research & Practice To Improve Learning, 55(4), 37-47. doi:10.1007/s11528-011-0510-z