When I was growing up the greatest sources of knowledge was my parents, my mum been an industrial chemist and my father was a stores manager at a steel works but had been a car mechanic when he left school (as soon as he could.) If these two resources couldn’t give me the answer I desired, I could consult my mothers old encyclopedia’s. These where the most up to date resource I had but where out of date been published sometime in the 1950’s so where at least 30 years out of date. A lot can change in 30 years for example names of countries, borders and the major one for me was scientific theories. Today you don’t have to consult dusty tombs but a quick search can yield thousand’s of links to articles about your chosen subject. YouTube can be an amazing resource, it’s a visual medium and as the saying goes a picture is worth a thousand words. It can be used to refresh your memory on how to do a skill that you have not used since school, for example how to make a dove tail joint, or learn a skill/technique you have never been taught like gutting a fish. It’s a great source of entertainment and learning for example the american PBS TV channel has their own YouTube presence and runs some great educational series. But as anyone can post on YouTube there is no real way you can know the competence of the poster on any subject. The number of followers does not indicate a measure of integrity, for example a famous ‘Russian Hacker’ advocated using dry-ice as an air conditioning unit (Carbon dioxide poisoning anyone!) and this guy had a few hundred thousand followers.
YouTube also allows you to research ideologies, which can be great as an adult with an amount of critical thinking and the ability to research and check on claims and not just believe statements on face value. As I’ve talked about in my article about statistics these can be quoted with no frame of reference and be used to argue any case you want. For example using statistics you could argue that Adolf Hitler reduced unemployment in Germany to approx 0%.It could be just annoying like the lifestyle change to vegetarianism 30 mins before you sit down to thanksgiving or christmas dinner. Or could be more insidious like modern feminism where they use circular logic like cult leaders, you must believe or you are evil! Children and young adult often struggle to realise that something taught in a certain way is not guaranteed to be 100% correct. For example between school, college and university I learnt 3 models of how to think about atoms and their electrons. Learning 3 models in 3 years, fun, so much fun!
But as well as the free access to ideas the comment sections can be rather ruthless, the larger the YouTuber the less likely they are to monitor their comments section. Even the most inane comment can be taken the wrong way and release a tirade from potentially an overwhelming number of people. Some famous YouTubers like PewDiePie actually disable their comments section because of the toxic nature of his followers, some modern feminists who post video’s disable their comments section and also the like/dislike section for example Feminist Frequency. If a person is unable or unwilling to defend their ideology from ridicule is it a worthy ideology to begin with. Another odd thing about youtubers community’s (the youtubers followers) can act as a mob, for example recently a youtuber by the name ‘Leafy’ made a video ridiculing a vulnerable person and all his followers proceded to attack that poster through there comments section. A child can contact radical ideas that they might not be exsposed to until college/university these ideas explored in the atmosphere of a university can be beneficial but in a smaller community could cause long term harm.
I’m not giving any remedies to these problems, because other than banning youtube completely via the firewall, Im not sure if there is a solution at the moment. It’s just another reason why a family computer should be in a communial area. But I know this might not work if you have two children needing to use a computer at the same time for homework.
See you on the other side…