For involved parents like myself, the ‘little ones’ are everything. And when considering the list of harmful influences, nothing is more damaging to their health than excessive screen-time. In this respect, YouTube comes out on top in keeping people hooked. To all of their pocket and desktop devices for literally hours on end. Recently, I was shocked and greatly angered to discover the large monthly bill I got on my Spectrum Internet connection. After investigating the matter, I was horrified to discover that my 12-year-old was the wily culprit responsible.
Apparently, she had spent over 240 hours in streaming the YouTube videos of her favorite vlogger, PewDiePie. And in no less than 1080p HD resolution! I don’t even want to hint at the specifics of how much money I was forced to pay to the internet company as a result. As I’m sure no one would; when faced with such a situation.
So How Do You Reign-in Your Kids?
Much of this obviously has to do with being strict with them. Subscribing to an internet service with inbuilt parental lock features also helps. Because in this way, you get to filter a lot of adult-rated content that your kids would otherwise see. Both mistakenly, and intentionally.
Another way to keep your kids’ screen-time in check is by actively monitoring their time.
Recently, YouTube rolled out a cool new feature in its mobile app. By going to the ‘Time Watched’ tab under the Watch History pane, you can easily find out the total time spent on the app:
- In the last 24 hours
- The previous date
- The last seven days
If your entire family makes use of one YouTube account, these options can easily give you detailed insights into the watch history of all members. And particularly of your kids, if they are using separate accounts created by you on their devices.
On a similar note, Instagram also recently introduced its own version of time prompts for its users. When a particular user has completely gone over all of their apps feeds in the last two days, a ‘You’re all Caught Up!’ message prompt appears.
Facebook, likewise, plans to introduce its own ‘time well spent’ option in the near future.
A Simple (and Original) Monitoring Guide
Honestly speaking, I tend not to rely too much on the parenting advice given in blogs and printed magazine articles. This is because I find the recommendations contained within them too rigid. And often, they’re highly impractical.
I’m not part of the deranged ‘tiger moms’ club which seems to be all the rage nowadays. I don’t want my children to run away by the time they turn eighteen. And I would love more than anything to have them by my side when I go past 60.
Simple.So any parenting advice that I can (and would) give is of the gentle, yet effective, variety.
This pen ‘n ‘paper monitoring guide, which you always have to maintain in secret, is a good example of a parenting hack that I like to follow. And I can honestly say that my kids are better off today (in the manners and productivity departments) because of it.
The best part about it is that it is quite easy to draw, and you can use it to curb your kid's (or just about anyone really) YouTube addiction.
What You’ll Need
- A Graph Paper Book (with columns and rows; spreadsheet software can also do)
- A Pencil
- A LOT of Patience
The Steps to Follow
Simply devote each page in the book to a specific month, and label all columns with the date. Each row can correspond with every hour of the day.
Using the YouTube ‘Time Watched’ option referenced above, you can record your child’s YouTube watch history on every calendar date.
For every week, choose to sum up the total hours watched, and try to negotiate with your child to decrease this figure by an hour.
Gradually, like with all addictions, you can expect to ‘taper’ him (or her) off to a weekly time-frame of 5 hours. Or even less, if you stick with the practice long enough.
Using this method, I got two of my boys down from spending 40 hours every week in streaming Dragon Ball Z episodes to an impressive 10! And if you’re feeling a bit dismissive in reading this, let me tell you that for a parent, this is a big achievement.
Making Ready-Made Templates – and Spreading the Wealth!
When I started making my paper YouTube records, I mostly kept them to myself. But at one of my kid’s parent-teacher meetings, the secret somehow got out. And it wasn’t long before my email and phone inbox became literally flooded by requests from other moms to share them.
At this point, I decided to become generous and uploaded them publicly in my Google Drive. The free data volume I got on my Spectrum package also helped quite a bit. Last I checked, my template had become so popular that it actually ended up becoming adopted by the government of a foreign country. Somewhere in the Caribbean, where people had only recently gotten their first exposure to the trials of YouTube watching.