Sophie and Eli stream YouTube on their phones—their version of Saturday morning cartoons. It’s 9:00am, they just woke up; I don’t know what time they go to bed. I can’t get a straight answer out of either of them. I’m asleep by ten each night. They stare at their five-inch screens and stifle a laugh now and then.

I’m not exactly sure what it means to stream YouTube. Obviously, I’ve watched YouTube before, but only those videos I sought out, searched for. Usually, it’s a video of a song I like, but sometimes it’s something educational. I learned how to replace the heating element in my dryer because somebody painstakingly shot a video of the steps involved.

But Sophie and Eli don’t enter search terms, they go with the flow. They watch the next video presented to them by YouTube. And then the next. They randomly bounce from topic to topic: watching a toddler shoot herself in the head with a Nerf gun, learning about nuclear physics from a TED Talk, judging a sandcastle contest, getting grossed out by binge-eating feats. They watch Vines about croissants, driving mum’s car, and roadwork ahead.

In 1975, I was thirteen, just like Eli is today. I watched The Bugs Bunny/Roadrunner Hour. Is YouTube really any different?

8 thoughts on “YouTube

  1. I admit to watching YouTube quite a bit. Every night before I turn out the light, I watch comedy so I end the day with laughter. I mean…. the news is so awful I need an antidote. Mostly I search for videos about topics that interest me: physics and astronomy, for example. Music videos for sure. Before I had my prostate biopsy, I watched a video that alleviated my worries about the procedure. I don’t mind YouTube putting up recommendations for other videos for me, but I rarely go there.


    • The only time I reliably visit YouTube is while cooking or doing the dishes, and that’s to listen to music. I’ve never just let YouTube guide me, but I’m not much of a watcher. In truth, when friends recommend a video, it usually takes me a week or so to check it out.


  2. I watch You Tube for the same reasons you do – to fix the lawn mower, dishwasher, washing machine – really has been helpful in that way. My kids watch it the same way yours do and I have often wondered the same thing. I get nervous because I don’t know what they are watching. It just goes from one video to the next. What if the one in the middle had something that is not right for their age? Declan used to love to watch this guy dressed as Spiderman play video games. But when the headphones came off I realized the guy was playing a video game about stealing stuff from your neighbors house and was throwing curse words in every sentence. That one was a hard one to get him away from – I can’t figure out how to block certain videos. I also get nervous cause like you said – they are in their rooms alone with this stuff. I like with the TV I can see what they are watching. And lastly (sorry – I can really relate) again, it is just more time on their devices. Which is weird as I would be okay with them watching TV downstairs – I just hate so much technology in my world. Liked it better even 10 -15 years ago. The age before smart phones.


    • Right, I’m in complete agreement about TV v. Phones. On the rare occasion they are watching TV in our family room, I’m OK with it. But they can sit in the exact same chair with their phone and headphones watching the exact same show, and I get bent out of shape. But I still refer to their phone as a Walkman every now and then. It’s a brave new world.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I was 22 in 1975 and I still watched cartoons as I do now, but not in the same way. I am very particular about what I watch on you tube. My latest is a clean guy, about your age, that fixes mowers, motorcycles, outboards, and Volkswagens. I am learning nothing as I have done most of those repairs myself It is just fun and familiar, Watching someone spew their opinions or political position is just torture. I have no children but I can only imagine the horror learning what your kids are being exposed to.

    Liked by 1 person

    • ::Watching someone spew their opinions or political position is just torture.:: HA! There’s a good bit of that on this blog. You just haven’t read any yet. I used to be somewhat worried about what my kids are watching, but they’ve hit the age that I just need to trust them. We spend a good bit of time together, so if they were absorbing what I consider “dangerous views” I think it would be apparent. I worry a bit about porn, but avoiding porn on the internet is like trying to not step on a crack on the sidewalk. You can do it, but you won’t always do it.


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