For ParentsFor Teachers

Online Safety and Video Creation, Sharing, Chatting

By Lynette Owens

This is the 4th in our 10 for 10 weekly series of online safety and digital literacy tips.

Last week, the Pew center released a study about teens and their attitudes and behaviors around online video use.  Today, 37% of teens use video chat such as Skype or iChat, and close to 1/3 of teens create and share, up from 14% in 2006.  While these numbers are on an upward trend, they are not that surprising.

 There is really no substitute for video.  It’s the next best thing to connecting with someone far away.  And for aspiring film-makers, performers, and professional communicators, it’s a fantastic creative outlet that’s accessible to the masses thanks to the Internet and affordable cell phones with video-capture capability.

But as with any other mode of online communication and expression, it’s important to keep in mind that video chat or online video sharing happens in a public space.  So the rules for keeping safe and keeping a good reputation still hold.

Here are some things to keep in mind and ways to guide your kids about online video use:

  1. Video chat can happen from device to device (such as FaceTime on Apple devices, which is private).  It can also be done through social networks such as Facebook and Google+.  Most social networks allow you to limit video sharing to specific groups or individuals (as they do with text or photos).
  2. You can post videos on numerous video-sharing sites such as YouTube and Vimeo, but only some of them allow you to share them in private circles.  Here is a great top 10 list of the most heavily used video-sharing sites, with a great matrix of features.  From a safety perspective:
    • only 7 of 10 allow for private sharing
    • only 5 allow you to flag videos you think are inappropriate or violate community guidelines
    • and a different set of 5 allow creators to label content as potentially not appropriate for certain audiences
  3. Videos can also be posted on most major blogging sites such as Blogger or Tumblr, however, most of these do not enable private sharing as typically blogs are meant for public viewing entirely.  Social networks and some of the video-sharing sites noted above are better suited for sharing with a smaller group.

Before you let your kids become the prolific video creators and chatters, remind them of the following:

  • Think before you post anything.  Even if it’s meant for a small group of friends, it can still be shared with the public by someone in that trusted circle.  Don’t post any video that hurts others or yourself.  Be respectful of others while you’re on video chat and any form of communication.  Once it’s online, it’s permanent.
  • If someone you know has posted a video that you’re in and don’t like, first ask them to take it down. The site won’t or can’t take it down if it doesn’t violate any of their community guidelines.  If someone has tagged you in a video and shared it on a social network, you can untag yourself so it won’t show up in your stream. 
  • If someone has posted something that is offensive or worrisome (but doesn’t necessarily include you), tell someone and flag it within the site.  Most sites won’t allow such content to go or stay up in the first place, but sometimes they miss things, especially on social networks when millions of people are uploading content every minute.
  • Respect copyrights and the creative work of others.  Don’t use music, photos, video clips that belong to others without their permission.

For kids 7-12:  If your son or daughter is very interested in producing and sharing videos with peers, try this great, very family-friendly and kid-safe site called KidzVuz.  Kids are not required to use their real names and every video is reviewed before it is posted.

As with any other technology and where interacting with others is involved, there are rules, there are risks, and there are numerous possibilities to do great things with online video technology.  In our 3rd year of hosting the What’s Your Story? video contest, it’s a concept near and dear to our hearts.  Each year, young people have had a lot of things to say and have even more creative ways to say it. Video is an incredible platform for them to do it.  If your kids have expressed interest in using it, know the options, guide them on safe and responsible use, and stay involved.

Below are more tips and links to help you:

NOTE: YouTube has a safety mode so that kids will not be able to search for/find videos containing age-inappropriate content. More @  YouTube is also working to release a tool that will alow you to blur faces in videos (forthcoming).

Follow Lynette on Twitter @lynettetowens

Tags :digital literacyinternet safetykidsmedia literacyonline privacyonline safetyonline videosocial networking

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