My kid is being socialized by Youtube, but that’s okay. That would be my click-bait title if I wrote click-bait titles.
Let me back step a bit. We are currently in the omicron wave in Ontario and, while not government mandated, people are going into relative isolation, cancelling holiday plans, and the small bit of community that we’ve managed to find is slipping out of view.
This type of isolation isn’t new for my family: we relocated from a well-connected neighbourhood to rural Ontario in the summer of 2019 as the pandemic was in full swing. I regret nothing but I knew it was going to be hard to meet new people here. We are self-employed and homeschool, and the population is sparse. We knew what we were getting into.
My kids both spend a good chunk of their day online. My oldest plays games with friends or researches new games or watches YouTube. My youngest plays Ipad games, PC games, and watches YouTube as well. For my little guy, this is really the only life he’s known. While he does see grandparents and we do connect with other kids every week or two, he definitely gets most of his interaction from his brother, his parents, and YouTube.
Sometimes this makes me upset. I know that this isn’t the right way to live. I crave a community where he can run around with other kids all day, engaging in free play to his heart’s content. But we’re in a pandemic and we live in a neo-liberal capitalist culture that emphasizes productivity and business. I know this dream is just not possible right now. So YouTube it is.
But here’s the thing: my kiddo is incredibly well socialized. Probably better than me. He’s polite, engaging, not at all shy. He’s super social, well-spoken, and has a fantastic vocabulary. I know this is mostly his personality, but YouTube (and unschooling of course) has given him a solid foundation on interpersonal skills, discourse and comedic delivery, pop culture memes, and probably more.
While in-person community is just not available, maybe this online interaction is all we have. And maybe it’s not as bad or damaging as we claim but just different from what we know. Rather than lamenting what we’re missing right now, maybe I should accept what’s working and right in front of us instead of condemning it.