Learning with YouTube can be fun and easy. But this doesn’t mean that what you learn is always good.
YouTube as an integral part of the Internet hosts millions of videos that are played countless times daily. With content ranging from entertainment to global news, it is well known that as a source of information it is as vast as any other source.
In its videos you can learn details of animal life, plant growth or various chemical reactions, all in a visual and entertaining way. You can find any topic at any time.
However, the fact that its information is vast does not mean that it is true or accurate, because let’s remember that the content on YouTube is made up of real institutions, but also of millions of normal individuals who create content for the platform.
Thousands of children use YouTube every day to learn and look up information about their homework or schoolwork. But is the learning material they find really reliable? And above all, is YouTube as a platform a good way to learn?
Take care of the recommendation algorithm
We know that when we search for a video on YouTube, “recommended videos” appear that are related to our search. However, this recommendation system does not evaluate the quality of the videos, nor the source that broadcasts them, but rather their ability to go viral, which can promote attractive, but not truthful or reliable, information.
For example, if we search for “Universe “*, to learn about it we could click on the first result: “The best documentary of the Universe in History” a documentary created by NatGeo and published by a private individual. The algorithm will recommend us other related videos including “NASA’s Five Best Kept Secrets”, if we click on it now we will be able to see recommended a video entitled “Russian Scientists Reveal that Antarctica is not what we are told”, which has false information that promotes conspiracy theories.
With just a couple of clicks, we’ve gone from NatGeo to a video that is far from containing academic and accurate information.
These types of videos could easily be recognized as fake by most academically stable adults, but for who are learning, they could pass as real, especially if their presentation is similar to that of serious research media.
What’s worse is that this type of activity involving entertaining but not very credible content is learned by YouTube in its algorithm, which causes it to recommend more videos like this in the future, creating an incorrect information bubble.
Take care of content spokespersons
With over a billion users worldwide and over 950 million hours of recommended content daily, it is impossible to know what kind of videos YouTube can make available to children and young people using the platform.
Not for nothing conspiracy theories and content related to undesirable and toxic activities have found a home on YouTube over the last decade. As well as a community of users who comment on each video their impressions which are not always good or enriching
A video, or a series of videos, could be the gateway to a potentially harmful information bubble for children and young people who consume the content for academic and entertainment purposes.
YouTube, like most social networks, is home to a variety of unregulated and unsuitable opinions and views for girls and boys. Opinions can pass as harmless, but without proper supervision may influence the listener’s way of thinking.
So, is it advisable for girls and boys to learn with YouTube?
We should know that YouTube as a source of information acts like other school support tools, that is, as academic support, not as a main tool for studying. We recommend these practices:
For the little ones install YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids provides lists of content provided by institutional channels, plus parents or guardians can create lists of videos they feel are appropriate for their children. It also offers password-based parental controls and other security measures.
Teach young people to check the source of the video and its veracity
Young people can consult YouTube to find some complementary data to their research or to have a rough idea of it but only if the source that issues the content is reliable. The reason for this is that they learn to discern their contexts and subtexts clearly in the information.
Teach them to report harmful content
If they come across potentially harmful content, shows them the responsibility they have to report it through the tools that networks make available to them, whether it’s a video, a Facebook post or a tweet.
That way you’ll be helping to keep that kind of content from spreading so easily.
Consider more online tools
YouTube, given its characteristics may seem the easiest way to learn on the Internet, however it is not the only tool.
Educational video games can help girls and boys master skills that a YouTube video cannot teach, online encyclopedias have no problem with accuracy, and trustworthy magazines and newspapers are also on the Internet. Learning to search through different media is as useful as the information itself
Learning with YouTube is possible and to some extent recommended since it represents a repository of information available to education, however, like other disruptive tools, it is necessary to emphasize proper guidance and monitoring of its use. Yes, YouTube can be a good way to learn, but you have to understand its risks and limitations so that thousands of children can do it without any problem.
* Note: The example described in this note is a real one.
Sources and references:
Chaslot, G. (2019, July 13). The Toxic Potential of YouTube’s Feedback Loop | WIRED. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from WIRED website: https://www.wired.com/story/the-toxic-potential-of-youtubes-feedback-loop/
Matsakis, L. (2019, February 20). How to Make YouTube Kids Safer for Your Kids| WIRED. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from WIRED website: https://www.wired.com/story/youtube-kids-parental-settings-safer/
Katz, R. (2018, October 20). To Curb Terrorist Propaganda Online, Look to YouTube| WIRED. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from WIRED website: https://www.wired.com/story/to-curb-terrorist-propaganda-online-look-to-youtube-no-really/
Thompson, D. (2019, May 23). How Did the Far Right Take Over the Web? | The Atlantic. Retrieved September 29, 2019, from The Atlantic website: https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2019/05/how-did-the-far-right-take-over-the-web/590047/