Vlogging 101 - a guide for parents

 A young woman and her friend, both in pyjamas, invite viewers into their lounge room where they’re having a slumber party. For the next 25 minutes, they fall over themselves laughing as they road test strange beauty products like temporary tattoo lip colours and stick-on eyebrows.  The video, by UK YouTube personality Zoella has over 1 million views. Welcome to the wonderful world of video blogging, otherwise known as “vlogging.”

In our hyper-connected, 21st century world, there are very few souls that have not been touched by a vlog. Whether it’s a video of someone reviewing clothing or gadgets, playing video games, eating, cooking or telling you about their day, the lives and opinions of perfect strangers have proven to be hugely compelling viewing. 

For Gen Z (kids and teens born between roughly 1995 and 2005), the young vloggers they watch online are more relatable, fun and genuine than most TV figures and celebrities – in fact, 50 per cent of Gen Zs say they [can’t live without YouTube](https://www.adweek.com/digital/infographic-50-of-gen-z-cant-live-without-youtube-and-other-stats-that-will-make-you-feel-old/). It’s this relatability that has earned many vloggers millions of views and subscribers. 

If your child is nagging you for a camera to start their own YouTube channel, don’t fear. Naysayers might see YouTube as nothing more than a platform for fame hungry, self-obsessed youth. But contrary to popular belief, vlogging can be a great way to channel and nurture young creative energy. Content creators now have the platform to make their own media and establish genuine connections with other like-minded individuals at the same time. With a little guidance, kids can safely find creative fulfilment in this part of the internet.

What can vlogging offer to kids?

Creating and editing videos is a great way for kids interested in media to get hands on experience. Perhaps your child is interested in film making, writing short films, acting, presenting or editing. Having an online channel to put all of these skills into practice allows them to develop and get a taste for what they like doing most. Joining the vlogging community can also open kids up to national and international friendships, especially if they have a rather obscure interest to bond over.  

I’m worried about having my child’s identity made public.

Creating publicly accessible content requires both you and your child to weigh up how much or how little you are willing to share. Are you okay with your child broadcasting their image? Would you prefer they adopt an online persona, or are you okay with them using their real name? 

While many YouTube stars are happy to have their face on camera and their real name known to the public, that doesn’t necessarily mean your child has to follow suit. Gaming videos, for instance, often only feature the vlogger’s voice narrating their game play, rather than their face. Other vloggers who review toys and products might only film their hands playing with the product. Depending on the kind of content your child is keen on making, there are multiple ways to obscure their identity. 

I’m happy for my child to begin vlogging but I don’t understand why they want to share everything about themselves online.

An open, unfiltered access to people’s lives is part of what has made vlogging so popular. Many popular YouTube personalities balance their ‘main’ content with serious discussion about their emotional and personal life. It’s this openness that engenders a feeling of intimacy and connection with their viewers, who can often be going through similar experiences. 

Children now are more comfortable sharing their thoughts and feelings online and it’s not necessarily a bad thing. In one video, the aforementioned YouTuber Zoella told her fans about her crippling anxiety, hoping to help others who may be struggling to open up about their own troubles. This type of peer to peer sharing can be positive: vlogging is a world free from the judgements of adults, which is what makes it an attractive place to be. 

On the flipside, it’s important to remember that maintaining a YouTube channel can open your child up to sometimes mean, harmful comments. It’s a good idea to run through protective safety settings with them and make sure they are emotionally resilient enough to monitor their own comments section.

I’m on board. Does my kid need a DSLR and a ring light to start vlogging?

Short answer: No. A lot of vloggers start out using nothing more than their built-in computer webcam. If your child is keen on creating videos where they talk directly to the camera, a smart phone and a well-lit room will do just fine. A camera tripod with a phone holder or mount is definitely worth buying to get a stable image and shouldn’t cost very much. If you happen to have a DSLR or camcorder laying around that you’re willing to lend them, go for it, but overall, encourage your child to think about the content and concept of their videos before the equipment. 

And what about audio quality?

Good point, a video with mediocre video footage is passable but bad quality audio can definitely turn viewers off. In-built microphones on laptops aren’t spectacular, so if your vlogging star is showing some promise, there’s no harm in searching for an affordable lapel mic that you can plug straight into a smartphone.

Parting words of advice.

"I think having an outlet for young kids to express their creativity is a positive thing," says 20-year-old Justin Escalona, who started a YouTube channel when he was 11. "Just don't put stupid or inappropriate stuff online and don't worry about getting views. Just be genuine.”