YouTube provides a completely free platform for uploading, sharing, and viewing video content on any subject. You can laugh over a parody of Twilight, see your nephew take his first steps, learn how to seal the grout on your tile floor, or prove to your kids that an octopus can, in fact, fit through an opening the size of a quarter. Here’s what you need to know about using this powerful tool called YouTube.
Watching Videos on YouTube
Anyone can watch videos without registering with YouTube. You can search by content to find pretty much anything you want, and YouTube will suggest related content.
Turn on the “Safety Mode” at the bottom of the page, but don’t let it give you a false sense of security. It hides comments from view and (in theory) filters out “mature content.” But it will certainly not catch everything you find objectionable.
Posting Videos on YouTube
To upload a video to YouTube you must create a free account. Once registered, you can upload anything – literally – as long as it’s under 15 minutes. YouTube asks users to adhere to certain guidelines, but it doesn’t review videos unless they are flagged as inappropriate by another user.
Social Networking on YouTube
Though most of us think of YouTube as a video-sharing site, it is also as much of a social networking site as MySpace or Facebook. Logged-in users can leave comments on each others’ videos and profiles, make “friend” requests, and form video groups with other users. The same cautions that apply to a chat room apply to YouTube.
YouTube Safety Tips
- Flag inappropriate content if/when you see it
- Default for all uploaded videos is “public;” label personal videos as “private” to be viewed by invitation only
- Users can opt to “hide objectionable words” or disable comments on their videos altogether, as well as block abusive users
- Take steps to hide your age and other information in your profile (this is not automatic)
- Be careful what you post: even if you delete a video from YouTube, illegally-made copies will remain