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 (PAULSOARESJR):
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 (THEDIAMONDMINECART):
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.
FAMILY GAMING TEAM (FGTEEV):
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 SKYLANDER BOY AND GIRL:
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.
DOH MUCH FUN:
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!
Lindsay AFM says
My daughter LOOVES watching grav3yardgirl (https://www.youtube.com/user/grav3yardgirl) “Does this thing really work” series and unboxing videos. She’s hilarious and totally family-friendly!!
Grav3yardgirl is actually one of the channels *I* keep up with! Definitely family-friendly too.
Oh no you forgot Pat and Jen !! They have two channels Popular mmo’s (mainly minecraft and mainly them playing a game together and the other channel they have is called gaming with Jen which is a bit of mine craft gaming and some light hearted and hilarious blogging with their pet cat cloud and other sillyness. Even big kids love watching those two they are really an awesome young couple. No swearing violent games or anything else inappropriate for children.
The other channel Which is pretty good in terms of clean content is thinknoodles channel.
You’re right! My son has gotten into PopularMMOS since I wrote this post.
John Dad says
FGteeV does occasionally contain swearing and also some alarmingly bad parenting. I’ve seen the father tell off their youngest because he needed his nappy changing, and told him to “go away and find your mother”. He also ran around the house dressed as a scary clown with a machete, with no thought for their clearly terrified children. I no longer let my daughter watch this horrible family.
I appreciate your input! Especially in more recent years (and since I posted this article), I have seen some questionable antics from their channels as well. I don’t think I have heard the language you mentioned, but I have had to have talks with my kids about things that we don’t find appropriate.
Cy Christiansen says
I also feel that FGteeV is also NOT appropriate for the above mentioned reasons. Not to mention the father is one of the most annoying faces on Youtube. That may sound like a personal attack, but the reality is, he’s a video game playing dad that young kids latch on to very quickly. His obnoxious banter only encourages loud and inappropriate behavior from the young people watching it. My son is just unbearable after watching their videos and because the dad is an adult, he thinks this is normal behavior…he thinks this is what humor is. Very uncool.
its acting my friend they clearly love each other and if you meet them in real life you would know so please get your information right before you call a loving family “horrible”
Sarah hewitt says
I do not let my kids watch FGTV or their other channels anymore because watching a few videos with my kids the parents are teaching their kids things that I would never teach my children like squirting each other with ketchup and mustard at a restaurant (or anywhere) is an acceptable thing to do. In my home no matter what a grown up has done that does not give a child the right to disrespect any adult where as Duddy encourages it. In a beautiful fancy hotel that they were probably asked to come to for free advertising overflowed the jacuzzi tub with soda and water and this is just a few examples. I am pretty liberal with them a lot if the time, but I just do not approve of thos channels anymore.
Hi, my 6 year old loves Stampy and we recently began exploring other channels. He naturally found Squiddy from his relationship with stampy, and while I’ve seen great content from Squid, one video I caught today made me second guess him. He was playing GTA V, and it was just a racing minigame, maybe even a mod. It seemed totally family friendly, none of the standard GTA Farr but actual racing, but the fact it just exposed the kids to the GTA franchise had me second guessing ballisticsquid. What do you think about that? Too paranoid?
No, I don’t think you are paranoid at all. That is one of my family’s rules that I didn’t mention in this post. The kids are not allowed to watch any GTA or GTA related videos, even if they are on approved channels. Sometimes they are just harmless Minecraft mods or whatever, but I would rather err on the side of caution.
Yaya Yoshi says
We are trying to build our page of kid friendly youtube videos, if anyone wants to check us out. Yaya Yoshi play Sonic Mania. https://goo.gl/JzS1YU
Daddy T says
FYI DanTDM swears occasionally. I do not let my 8yo watch him any more.
A couple channels my kids love are, puppet steve, a minecraft puppet that does toy unboxing. PSToyReviews, another unboxing channel. Kevs Toy fun and kidcity. I havent quite found a gaming channel i found totally appropriate yet. But i will check out a couple of the suggestions. Fgteev has lost our views though, some content is too scary and gives my kids nightmares and Chase’s screaming drives me nuts.
If you’re not put off by a little bit of self promotion, check out REaL Fun. We’re creating kid friendly content (starring our 3 boys) that is not following all of the trends that everyone is sick of. Here’s our channel link: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCOOBdCNJr-xxZ1dRToKuOgg
Our boys watch most of the channels you mentioned in the article. We used to LOVE stampy! 🙂 I do agree with some of the previous comments about FGEETV, but not to the point that we stopped watching them. We weren’t familiar with IBALLISTICSQUID, so we’re going to check them out.
Great article, and thanks for posting it!
John Brimm says
Grade School Gamers is a good kids channel to watch. Very informative.
ZebraGamer is amazing. Videos are targeted to kids, but still entertaining to parents. He is also a low frustration gamer and is pretty positive even when things aren’t going his way.
American Kids Vids has a very family-friendly channel. They don’t swear, the “scary” games they play are very kid friendly, it’s positive and fun. http://youtube.com/americankidsvids
It’s difficult there are channels like PrestonPlayz that started out good for kids but now they do outrageous dangerous stunts. Also so many of these channels like Ahmau that the kids love have non-stop screaming. Agree with everyone on FGTV. Lots of questionable content, the way the dad talks to the mom can be harsh and they are always screaming.
This is totally my approach as well, (esp the screaming ugh! As well as toy opening, reaction videos and anything painfully scripted lol just for me) for my 7 and 9yo and my 3yo who inevitably sees it too. We use an Eero wifi network with parental controls as well as restricted mode on our Roku, and I try to stay in the room or nearby when they’re watching.
When I want to just hand them a device and headphones I use an awesome app called Kids Place. They have a launch screen app that you can whitelist apps and lock down everything else really nicely, but it’s their video app I can’t imagine living without. You can whitelist specific videos, playlists (your own or others you subscribe to), or full channels (I haven’t used this tbh) so they have personally curated access to exactly the videos you want. I don’t know why they aren’t being praised from the mountaintops tbh, it’s a LIFE SAVER.
Craftee is one of our all time favs, as well as BeckBroJack (though the videos with his “bros” get really shouty at times) and TheCookieGod, all for Minecraft. Fundy and Misticat do awesome Minecraft mods with real coding that I find fascinating and inspiring. Maizen is great sometimes, my 3yo loves them, but a lot of their stuff has scary Japanese horror themes that are way too much for American kids at least. Watch out for copycat channels with that cause the Mikey and JJ characters get hijacked a lot.
ZachScottGames, Blitz and KindlyKeyin are great for other games. LetsGameItOut is hilarious but his humor is definitely on the dark side so watching with them is advised. You’ll probably enjoy it as much as them tbh!
I’m always looking for new YouTubers though, because they’re just voracious. I struggle with how much YouTube to let them have. Lately they’d do nothing but and it seems like it’s having an impact on their patience and attention. I’m considering implementing a “you have to watch a half hour of an actual show first” policy, esp a show we can watch with Spanish subtitles since they’re in a language immersion program at school.
We also do screen free Sundays which is SO HARD but omg so worth it to see the amazing games they come up with and just to watch them play and be kids.
Thanks for sharing your approach!