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Do you have a boy who loves this (3 minute read)

With over 300 videos uploaded every minute to YouTube, it has evolved into must see viewing for the pre-teen generation. Parents are left reeling from the fall outs due to excessive consumption from something that doesn’t appeal to them because of its moronic nature.

Why do I think it is so bad…I will try and explain from a mum’s perspective and also that of a child and adolescent therapist.

My son doesn’t have a television in his bedroom, not because I have any strong feelings about that he’s just never asked and I’ve not bought one. So, when YouTube is playing, it is on his kindle or through his Xbox which is in the lounge. I can hear and see the sort of things available to him to watch.

One of the biggest things that is damaging is that it gives a false idea of masculinity to boys growing into adolescence. There is this over exaggerated laddish absurd behaviour with pumped up Gym tanned bodies (there is lots of evidence piling up in regards to boy’s exposure to social media and the impact it has on body image)

It gives a false representation of what will be tolerated, it lacks intelligence. There is a constant ‘banter' that is exhausting.

When I see teenage boys in my practice, they have this long-standing idea that conversation is meant to be this way, that at any given minute they have to be witty, clever and quick. This expectation is paralysing in social situations, its like they believe that if they aren’t Russell Howard jumping about spouting witticisms then they are boring and not worth much to their group.

The core beliefs that some of my male clients have are deep rooted

“I’m weird”

“I’m not like everyone else”

“I’m boring”

“I’m weak”

The above are absolute beliefs which are different than contextual such as “I’m not great at parties” or “I am not great at P.E”

When we explore this more, boys come to realise that it either comes from their own peer group or from outside influences such as YouTube. These core beliefs are quite hard to shift and require lots of personal research and noticing by the client. It is a long process, even with a therapist alongside.

The other worrying behaviour is that of pushing boundaries. I understand that practical jokes are great, that boys love that slapstick comedy…I get it. The practical jokes that happen on YouTube though border on cruel, they are also very physical showing no respect for personal physical boundaries. Not understanding and appreciating other peoples wishes and personal space is quite a serious concept not to grasp.

If you have an emotionally immature child or a child with an ADHD diagnosis then please see the chart below to understand the cognitive executive age of the child that is taking in this absolute tripe.

Have you also noticed that YouTube people are very loud? That they are bordering on obnoxious. “if I speak loud enough and shout the important bit then I am worth listening to” Not so in real life, people don’t want to tolerate it in everyday situations.

Most of the videos on offer from these 20 something year olds lack kindness.  Only 18 months ago we had Logan Paul filming suicide victims in woodland in Japan. In another video there is a girl about 5 years of age in a park walking around holding alcohol to see what reactions she gets from strangers. I’m sorry but it is bonkers, have YouTube totally lost their moral compass.

A while ago I wrote about how much harder it is to be a teenager now than when we were young. In that blog I wrote about imagining opening your front door and leaving it open for every waif and stray to wander upstairs to your teenagers’ room and fill their heads with any radical, weird and unsettling thought that they thought was appropriate. You can read that blog here

You wouldn’t do it would you? And I’m not doing it for my son.

At the moment I am implementing a time restriction, but that will only last for so long.

  • ·       I try to discourage it in the car and now he listens to Spotify music.

  • ·       It’s not allowed at the table.

  • ·       I actively discredit things that I think aren’t possible or believable about the videos (yes, I sound like a kill joy, but I remember to mention it when we have time together. I am offering another perspective, not forcing my view).

  • ·       I mention that kindness is one of the most important things to show towards someone and that if you are kind then you can have peace with yourself.

  • ·       I generally keep my eye on the ball without being intrusive either physically or verbally.

I can’t stop it all together, I wouldn’t want to. I just want to lessen the exposure. My son is 11 and so we do pillow fights and go outside and be active, sort of like the preteen version of toddler distraction.

We can’t bemoan the crisis in masculinity and just hope without guidance that our boys will find their way, they won’t.

Steven Biddulph has some very useful things to advise about boys in the 21st century and you can see his website here

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