Remember excitedly getting up on Saturday mornings, pouring yourself a bowl of dry cereal and plopping down in front of a morning-long block of cartoons? Me too! You know who doesn’t remember that? Any of our kids. They don’t have Saturday morning cartoons; they have YouTube.
Other parent friends and I have noticed how little our kids are asking to watch TV anymore. Mostly my grade school aged children are asking for permission to watch YouTube. My kids started asking so they could learn more about Minecraft, and it sort of spiraled from there.
We quickly realized that boundaries needed to be set to avoid the kids stumbling onto content they shouldn’t be watching. We have established an “OK YouTubers” list and my kids are very good about sticking only to channels on that list. If they hear about a new channel they would like to explore, they know that I have to approve the channel first before adding it to the list.
My approval for an OK YouTuber generally depends on a “trust my Mom gut” reaction, but there are some specific things I have deemed inappropriate for my 5 and 8 year old kids:
- Sexual content
- Drug references
- Constant screaming/yelling
- Most Five Nights at Freddy’s content (seriously – the premise of that game is DARK)
- Mature video games (like GTA)
The channels on our list fit these standards for the most part. I know there is bad content that will slip past my filters, and I understand YouTubers are human and will make mistakes too. These are 9 of the YouTube gaming channels with which I am comfortable and which my kids love. I’ve also included a video from each channel so you can get an idea of what each channel produces.
Stampy is a cake-loving Minecraft cat voiced by Brit Joseph Garrett, who has a yuk-yuk-yuk laugh you will need to learn to love. Stampy’s videos are lighthearted, fun Minecraft tutorials combined with silly storylines.
Minecraft Dad is another Minecraft-centric channel. Paul Soares Jr. plays through the game, frequently with his kids. Soares also operates a public server where fans can play Minecraft along with his family. Paul Soares Jr. also contributed to the Minecraft Handbooks (affiliate link) that your kids have probably brought home from the library.
Dan TDM is probably the most famous kid-friendly Minecraft YouTuber around. He frequently tests out Minecraft Mods in his Let’s Play videos. He also releases skit-based videos featuring his Minecraft avatar, his Minecraft dog, Grim, and his buddy Dr. Trayaurus.
The next FOUR channels are all made by the same YouTube loving family. Mummy, Daddy, Lexi, Mike, Chase, and Baby Shawn all appear in these family-centered videos. The family plays videos games like A.gario, Mario Kart, and Pokemon GO.
The oldest two FGTeeV kids have their own channel where they play Skylanders and unbox new characters. Expect to hear your kids singing along to the channel’s original songs about the Skylanders universe.
The third oldest FGTeeV sibling gets his own channel as well. Chase’s channel focuses on toy unboxing and reviews.
Yet another channel from this same prolific family, this channel centers more around fun real-life challenges, sketch comedy, and envy-inducing family vacations. My daughter keeps asking when we can visit Punta Cana or the Bahamas. Um, when Momma strikes it rich on YouTube, honey.
The Minevengers channel produces daily videos centering around Minecraft versions of the Avengers. The video storylines tend to put the Minevengers in kid-friendly situations like saving the Ninja Turtles or rescuing Frozen’s Queen Elsa.
My favorite videos from Squiddy are his Scrap Mechanic videos. Imagine the TV show Junkyard Wars but in video game format. I like that my kids are at least getting some semblance of engineering from these vids. Plus, my kids have gotten really good at deciphering a Yorkshire accent.
A few more tips to keep in mind:
- Don’t rely on “restricted mode” to filter out inappropriate content. This system is mainly based on community-reported flagging, so many videos that should be restricted aren’t, while some that have no reason to be restricted are.
- Create a bookmark folder of YouTube channels you have deemed appropriate so that your children can easily access them without needing to search within YouTube. The less searching that is done within YouTube itself, the less the chance of stumbling onto something icky.
- If you aren’t a gamer yourself, you must do research on the games themselves. Five Nights at Freddy’s isn’t just a game about an old Chuck E. Cheese restaurant, and Grand Theft Auto isn’t just a racing game.
I have yet to find an app, device, or software that consistently filters YouTube content. Because the content is changing so frequently, it’s probably nigh unto impossible to accurately block things you don’t want your kids seeing. That means a little extra vigilance from us parents and a lot of communication with our children. My kids know that we operate on a trust system with YouTube, and if I can’t trust them to follow my guidelines, YouTube goes away. When they do stumble onto content they know breaks the rules, they have been very good about turning it off and telling me about it. I pray they keep that up!
All this being said, watching YouTube isn’t a necessary part of childhood. If you are uncomfortable with the scarier parts of YouTube, don’t let your kids watch any. You are the parent, and you get to make that call. Send them outside or make them read a book; they will probably be better off for it.
Do you have a family-friendly YouTube channel that your kids love to watch? Please let me know in the comments!