As a parent raising a child in the information age it’s really tough.
There is no book on how do it (Dr. Spock never had to deal with the Internet). There are no parental figures with experience raising a child in the age of the Internet. And sometimes our kids are more technologically adept than we are.
So we try to the best that we can with tools that we have available.
Unfortunately, because of well meaning but prescriptive laws and regulations, few tools exist. These rules scared off the development of tools and services to help parents and children. And that’s why I take umbrage with the recent negative statements about YouTube kids from advocates who don’t speak for all parents but want to remove tools to help my child.
Kids love watching YouTube. And as every parent knows, having one-click access to Elmo or Thomas the Train when their child is crying is invaluable. And when we’re sitting in the doctor’s office and my son is anxious, it’s nice to know that there are apps available that can help my son feel better.
I’m glad Google created YouTube Kids – it’s to help parents like me. As a parent, I know that YouTube Kids won’t show inappropriate ads before its videos. But if someone misidentifies a posted video, there is really no way for Google to know and curate that. For some, this is not good enough. But as a parent using this app, I don’t want Google throwing the baby out with bathwater.
None of us always gets it right, but there should be an opportunity to try.
Developers are trying their best to provide the types of apps and services that parents want and kids enjoy. None of us always gets it right, but there should be an opportunity to try. And it is also the responsibility of parents to use these apps with their children to make sure they are applied properly and responsibly.
As a parent, it is great that companies are helping us find great content for our children. And finding the right apps is not easy. Federal limitations and overly tough enforcement actions by the FTC has laid fallow the ground for kids apps.
The recent complaint about YouTube Kids is yet another discouraging reason why developers aren’t making apps and services to help parents and kids. In essence, the message to developers is: “if you try and make something to help kids and parents, be prepared to be under a microscope and threatened with legal actions.”
This is not the right message. I know I’m not alone. Parents like me worry that overreactions like those about kid-friendly apps along with increasingly oppressive regulations from the FTC will only further depress an already scarce resource for children and parents. That benefits none of us.
Like I tell my son, we should give others the benefit of the doubt, avoid rushing to judgment, and encourage them to try.