Last night I was video chatting with my mum and one of my sisters. My 24-month-old niece was with them and busy navigating YouTube on my mum’s phone while we were chatting through Skype on my sister’s phone. I was desperately trying to win my niece’s attention, waving and saying “Hi, your big auntie here” non-stop in a pantomime manner.
She proved to be too cool to respond to this imposition though. She cast a brief look and simply minimised the Skype app away. With one aloof tap. My mum and sister ROFL’ed. Me? I was jaw-droppingly impressed and feeling a little rejected at the same time. 😦
We hear a lot about the digital mastery of children and young people. I follow the latest developments in the field with interest. Among what I enjoyed reading most recently are Sonia Livingston’s comments on the YouTube Kids scandal and David M. Perry’s “How to teach a cyborg“.
In the meantime, Livingstone recommends keeping an eye on children’s YouTube binges. “It depends on the age and resilience or vulnerability of the child, of course, but the best advice is occasionally to share an interest with your child on YouTube,” she says. “Don’t always look over their shoulder, or check up on them secretly,” but watch with them to see how they go about using the app and how they react to what they view. And make sure to turn on restricted mode for some basic protections.
Because while it’s Google’s responsibility to do better, at this rate, your toddler may well be a teenager by the time Silicon Valley admits it’s time to hire human moderators to make up for algorithmic failures.
Having an understanding based on second-hand accounts, however, means that certain things will always be difficult to imagine. For example, it didn’t come to my mind until the second sister told me that in order to fulfil the Santa role successfully this time, she had to make sure there were no shopping traces on the phone and the tablet in the lead up to Christmas. !!!!!