My kids are into making movies these days. These movies have stories. They have props. They have good guys and bad guys. They have character actors. (Usually the dog.) They have a protagonist—whoever came up with the idea–and antagonists—the remaining two siblings. Some are pretty funny; and some, well, at least my kids think they’re funny. These films won’t be seen by any critics. They won’t be seen in a theater. But they likely will be seen by a number of individuals who might actually stumble upon, or possibly even search for, a movie abut Nerf guns and a dog from a distant planet. At least that’s my kids’ hope.
Video has taken over the world. Not just that we’re doing it more, but that it’s available at any moment on any number of gadgets we carry around with us everyday. And that’s why activites that used to be private affairs—a family ski trip, coffee at the local cafe, lounging on the beach—are now able to be captured and posted on YouTube within minutes of real time. Amazing. And scary.
What’s amazing—according to YouTube stats—is that one hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second. And over 4 billion videos are viewed every day. The scary part is that many of these videos are being uploaded by kids. And the very nature of being a kid is that they’ll almost always choose ice cream over vegetables and almost always choose watching TV over doing their homework. Which means that making intelligent and informed decisions is a long process that only begins in childhood.
At first I was a bit wary about allowing my son to post his movies on YouTube. I know that once you put something out there in cyberspace it’s pretty much impossible to remove it. And I wondered to myself what kind of people might view it. So I agreed to allow him to post his videos as long as he followed some guidelines—basically he couldn’t use his name or the names of anyone else in the video. I also initially requested that he make his videos private so only his friends could see them. But he said, “Dad, the whole point is to see how many views I get.” And here I was thinking the point was to make a good movie. Silly me.
It seems that everyone wants their 15 seconds of fame. But to what lengths will people go to achieve this? Recently a video was uploaded by the parents of a fifteen year-old kid. They captured their son, “high” on gas, moments before getting his wisdom teeth out. I have to admit, it was hilarious. But the parent in me was appalled. How embarrassing for a teenager. This kid is at the age where fitting in and being accepted by his peers is his number one concern. I wondered how he was going to be able to face his high school classmates once he returned to school. And how was he now going to feel about his parents? (Maybe kids aren’t the only ones still learning about intelligent and informed decisions.)
The immediacy of uploading video is alluring but it clouds a person’s judgement. We think the rest of the world is eagerly waiting for our genius to arrive, so we rush to upload video before we actually think about why we’re doing it. And honestly, how can we as parents, lecture our kids about how drugs and alcohol impair judgement when we’re busy posting embarrassing videos on You Tube and then revealing too much of ourselves on Twitter and Facebook? Seems a bit hypocritical to me. But I guess hypocrisy is part of parenting. Remember, “Do as I say, not as I do.”
For me, I’m just happy my kids are making videos occasionally rather than playing video games all the time. The former requires them to engage in the creative process. The latter does all the work for them and thus turns them into static little drones.
So I’m trying to be flexible in this fast-changing world. I’m learning how to speed up myself, and at the same time slow my kids down. They’re teaching me about the benefits of quantity—I’m not quite convinced yet—and I’m reminding them that quality will endure. The best part is that it’s give and take. And maybe the modern age of parenting is really just about being flexible. Because sometimes I wonder if it’s me guiding my kids or the other way around.
What are your thoughts on the topic?
Please share any of your own experiences. Thanks!
Saelen Ghose is a freelance writer.