The school of YouTube

By Danielle Wright

It may almost be the start of the school holidays, but, as Danielle Wright discovers, school's in for Kiwi YouTubers.

Louise Acfield and son Brendan use YouTube tutorials to hone their Rainbow Loom skills. Photo / Dean Purcell
Louise Acfield and son Brendan use YouTube tutorials to hone their Rainbow Loom skills. Photo / Dean Purcell

One hundred hours of video is uploaded to YouTube every minute. If there's something you want to learn, there's a good chance you'll find a tutorial on YouTube. We've learnt how to ice biscuits, how to bust a hip-hop move in time for the school disco, how to do a cartwheel and when my five-year-old daughter asked me to search "How to get Elsa's snow and ice magic powers" - lo and behold, there's even a tutorial on that. Here are some ideas on how parents and children can use YouTube on rainy days over Easter:

Family Youtubers

Business Analyst Louise Acfield and her 8-year-old son Brendan bought the latest primary school craze - a Rainbow Loom - while visiting relatives in California. Back home in Torbay, they learnt how to make rubber band creations such as fishtail bracelets and keychains.

Brendan now has a long line of school friends hoping he'll make a Minecraft Creeper keychain for their school bags. He also sells his creations at a market stall he's called Bs Bandz.

"Brendan and I both look forward to making these together," says Louise, who has bought herself a loom so they can follow the tutorials side-by-side. "YouTube is wonderful because you can pause a video if you're confused or return to a certain part if you need to. It's so important to learn something new with your child. It's given us time to connect and I've found Brendan is a great teacher!"

Louise also found doing YouTube tutorials with Brendan a good way to monitor the difficulty of the tasks.

"Kids often want to jump to the advanced levels too quickly and then get frustrated and discouraged," says Louise. "Our YouTube Rainbow Looms experience has also taught Brendan that using the iPad is not necessarily just a passive activity."

As well as learning an activity, there are endless opportunities to complement a child's interest. My son's favourite channel is Mr Stampy, a kind of Minecraft superhero with 2,000,000 subscribers. Mr Stampy Longnose, as he's sometimes called, has a huge following in the under-10 age range and he's also taught my son about the brilliant British sense of humour. Each episode is like a quirky homemade cartoon.

Minecraft is an online game about breaking and placing blocks to create worlds and go on adventures. In single player mode it's hugely popular for young players, or get the kids to set up private servers for them and their friends to play in a closed environment.

YouTube New Zealand's top channels for Kiwi kids are Sesame Street, Childrenlovetosing, SimpleKidsCrafts, 1Veritasium and TheSloMoGuys. Just remember that YouTube is recommended for children 13 and over, so it's a good idea to see YouTube as something you do together, like the Acfields, rather than giving younger kids free reign. There are some safety controls and you can also create playlists for different family members to access a limited selection of channels.

High School Youtubers

Sophie O'Connell, 16, uses YouTube to upload the movies she's made as part of her English and RE homework. She says it's incredibly easy to upload to the site and she then sends the links to her friends and teachers.

"YouTube is a really easy way for your friends and teachers to watch your movies because they can watch them from any device," says Sophie. "It doesn't tell you who viewed the videos but does say how many people have viewed them - we view them quite a bit!"

Her younger brother Nicholas sometimes borrows the iPad and uploads videos he's made with his Lego. Sophie says he never shows his face and she acknowledges you have to be careful about what you post online.

YouTube New Zealand spokesperson Shane Treeves says the holiday break is also a good time to sit down with your kids and chat about how the family can stay safe online. He suggests a good place to start is YouTube's new Google Safety Centre.

If your teens are uploading make sure they protect their identities so none of the tags reveal their real names, locations, schools etc. Check the video before it's posted to make sure there are no car number plates or home locations that could identify where they live, and mark their videos as private.

Google has a special parent resources section relating to YouTube with ideas of how to use the site together - including making a playlist of your favourite shows from when you were your child's age, or teaching about cultural assumptions by searching videos in one location to see the similarities and differences in content - perhaps we all love a cute video of a kitten whose best friend is a Great Dane.

Education on YouTube

Who said learning was boring? These days, there are twice as many videos viewed in YouTube's "education" category as there are in the "pets and animals" category.

"We use it in the classroom, especially for science," says Sophie, who admits it's fun but still easier to be taught by her teacher who can answer questions.

"I've used it for my biology homework too, because it offers really good educational explanations that aren't very long."

Many schools are now signed up to YouTube for Schools, which gives teachers access to half a million educational videos from the YouTube Education channel, including content from Stanford University, Khan Academy and TED. It's a kind of global classroom with everything from science experiments to world events.

YouTube EDU is a sub-section of YouTube that contains high-quality educational content and anyone with access to YouTube can search the educational content - it's a great place for parents to find videos to watch with the kids.

Making Money with YouTube
Auckland-based YouTube channel owner Dajne Win, 23, started his lolnet.co.nz site in 2011 and it's now New Zealand's biggest Minecraft gaming community. He joined YouTube with the brand in 2012. It didn't take long before an Australian advertising company approached him. He does make money from his videos, but it's not enough to quit University just yet.

"Once you get to around 60,000 subscribers then you can probably start to think about turning it into your main job," says Dajne, who advises reading the small print on any ad agency partnership agreements before signing them.

"The main thing for me was that I wasn't signing away content ownership," says Dajne. "It can get mucky and although you might earn more at first, some companies will claim contract ownership so they keep earning money from your videos when you don't - there are all sorts of pitfalls, so you need to shop around."

If you don't get approached, you can sign up to YouTube's Partner Programme, which aims to monetise your videos through revenue earned on channel advertising.

Dajne's advice is to come up with something you enjoy doing and to be consistent in uploading to built trust. He says, "I'm not the most artsy sort of person but it's fairly simple to put together videos. If you're going to do lots of them, do something you enjoy - if you find it boring then your audience will probably find it boring, too."

Other tips for earning money from YouTube include good editing and audio quality as well as engaging with the YouTube community in the comment sections and on other social media. You must be 13+ to start an account.

Seventeen-year-old high school student Jamie Curry, a "vlogger" (basically, a blogger with a video instead of a keypad), tells her fans about her everyday teenage life and thoughts at Jamie's World - she now has over 900,000 subscribers and is New Zealand's most successful YouTube star.

Contests on YouTube

Over the holidays, Kiwi teenagers aged 14-17 are invited by YouTube and Netsafe to create a public campaign helping their peers think about online behaviour as a way to keep each other safe. It's called Web Rangers and is a digital literacy campaign targeted at teens. There will be a workshop in Auckland on Thursday May 1st (entries due by Monday 14 April at netsafe.org.nz/webrangers).

Five tips from Google New Zealand to keep your family safe online:

1. Help your kids search safely. By turning on SafeSearch in Google Search, you can hide most of the mature content. Visit the Search Settings page at www.google.com/preferences and tick the box under "SafeSearch filters".

2. Safe viewing in YouTube. Restrict the videos your kids can watch on YouTube with Safety Mode.

3. Browse the web with guidance. When enabled, Supervised User for Google Chrome allows you to review a history of pages, allow or block certain sites, and manage which websites your family can visit.

4. More secure email. Gmail offers two-step verification, which means you'll need more than just your password to login. So, even if your password gets stolen, it's not enough to access your account.

5. Teach your kids to create strong passwords and protect them. You should remind children not to give out their passwords and make sure they unclick "remember me" on public computers.

- NZ Herald

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