Monday, May 7, 2012

Making You Tube more child friendly on the iPad

There are many reasons for using video with young children.  Video can enhance learning and provide visual representations the children may not otherwise be able to experience.  Video is very engaging and motivating to young learners.  The built in You Tube app on the iPad has made accessing You Tube very easy.   Early childhood teachers and parents are sometimes hesitant to use You Tube because there are very few safety features and it seems that everyone has horror stories related to searches gone terribly wrong or inappropriate related videos being displayed.  Even the comments related to each video can be offensive. To address these very valid concerns, I have been working on finding strategies that may lessen a teacher or parent's apprehension in using You Tube.        
Parents and teachers  have the option of disabling You Tube under the Restrictions section of Settings, so that the app can not be used on the iPad.  Here are a few alternatives to restricting the app.   Here are some less drastic alternatives that may make hesitant teachers and parents more comfortable.  To make You Tube more child friendly, parents and teachers should consider creating an account and playlists.  Having an account allows you to subscribe to child friendly channels such as Seasame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba, and the Houston Zoo.  By creating playlists, you are screening and collecting appropriate content for your child or students.  Once you create playlists, they can be accessed through the "favorites" tab on the bottom of the app home screen.  All of your playlists will be listed on the left hand side of the screen after you have selected the "playlists" tab at the top of the screen.  I think the app is more child friendly than the website because when you watch a video on the app, the comments do not appear unless you select the "comment" tab.  The comments are often guilty of being inappropriate.
You Tube playlists on iPad

I have been using the built in You Tube app, but was very excited when I heard about an app that makes You Tube much more child friendly.  The app, iTube Listimports your playlists and when the video is playing there are no comments or related videos.  Children can only see and play videos you have approved.  There is also a feature that can be accessed through the settings which allows an adult to set an alert that acts as a timer, warning a child that his or her time on the app is done.  The app has been "buggy" at times and has quit suddenly.  There are ads in the bottom corner of the play screen if you don't change it to full screen.  At the time of this posting, the app was being offered at no cost. 
iTube list home screen
Weet Woo is another popular You Tube related app.  This app does not allow you to import your playlists.  Instead, the makers of the app, collect kid friendly content.  You can choose an age range in order to access the most appropriate videos.  I often use this app to get ideas for appropriate videos to add to my playlists.   
Our department has also started a collaborative Google Doc.  The purpose of the document is to collect and share early childhood friendly videos that can be added to playlists.  We add videos as hyperlinks so that the person viewing the document can click on the link and be taken directly to the video.  We organize the videos by theme, and other categories such as books, songs, parent education, child development, and flashcards.  

These tips and suggestions are helpful in making You Tube something that parents and teachers are comfortable letting young children access.  Please share any of your helpful tips.    

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