On October 2nd, a YouTuber named “Dream” revealed his face on the internet, receiving the attention of over 42-million people. Internet denizens everywhere considered this to be a moment of internet history, nicknamed the Dream Face Reveal. You might have spotted articles on your Facebook or twitter about it and wondered, “What is so important about this guy revealing his face on YouTube?”
Dream started his channel in February, 2014. His channel focuses mostly on the video game hit, Minecraft by Mojang. Minecraft is very popular on Youtube as a platform, and in fact has held the spot of most played game for several years. Dream specifically made his appearance after he began uploading Minecraft let’s-plays, but his most popular playlist of videos involve his man-hunt series, raking in an impressive 30-million plus views per video. This series was especially popular starting in 2019; and over the course of the pandemic, more children were stuck at home to watch him play their favorite game! For that entire time, until now, Dream’s face remained a mystery, as he never uploaded a single video with it featured.
Personally, I had never heard of Dream until a child taught me about him. I was especially entertained by the amazing tricks he can pull off in the game!
What I like about Dream is that he’s made strict rules about keeping his content age-appropriate, and so far I have yet to see anything questionable about his videos. That is pretty high praise when comparing it to other equally popular channels. While I am not privy to his moral standards, my best guess is that by making it age-appropriate, he can maximize the size of his audience by appeasing the Youtube algorithms. This caters his content to Youtube’s largest viewer base: kids.
You might have to watch a few of Dream’s videos to decide for yourself whether or not you are okay with your children watching his content. What is significant about the Face Reveal is simply how much internet attention it got! After all, a Face Reveal is a traditional event for channels on Youtube who have reached a significant landmark in their channel’s growth–like how many views it has gotten, or how many subscribers it has gained. It’s safe to consider that it only means his influence on the platform is going to get bigger. It reveals to me, at least, that Dream has a very large audience, and many of the audience members, including our own children, watch a lot more than just Dream. So what about everything else on the internet?
To talk about everything else on the internet would be a task indeed. It might not be so important to consider all of the possible influences your child might access on the internet as much as curating what you allow them to access. What becomes important, also, is what to do if they have already been exposed to content that could have a negative influence.
Occasionally, I have the opportunity to reveal to parents what their children have been viewing on the internet, all of it in the context of concern. I would assume that most parents make some effort to pay attention to the media their kids are consuming, but too often I am surprised to find out that some parents have no idea what their children are watching or doing on their devices.
I have sat down with children who showed me enthusiastically what they have been viewing on their phones, and usually on platforms that are assumed to be perfectly safe, like TikTok and Youtube, only to find out the context of this media is filled with adult themes.
Often, a parent feels hopeless about this, that by somehow allowing their child to be exposed to illicit content on the internet, they have failed them. They will feel overwhelmed by how “on-top of things” they have to be to maintain the kind of protection they want to provide their children.
By no means can you be perfect at this, and there are things that can be done to give you and your family hope!
First of all, most children of certain ages wouldn’t be able to spot the adult themes that are hidden in a lot of content out there. It is a general trait that most channels use illicit language. It is not a trait, however, for every channel to use enticing content, but often the ones that do are the most popular. There are channels on popular websites like Youtube that provide adult-content that our children have absolute access to, but may not be fully aware of. Some of this illicit content is subtle. It is not hard to notice the motivation behind it, however: the channel is clearly hunting for views; and often, these giant Youtube channels have only that in mind. They could care less what influence it has on children.
There are several tools available to families, which I will mention soon. What is perhaps the most important thing to keep in mind is what mindset you have when introducing devices to your children’s lives and how proactive you can be.
Parents often ponder the convenience and safety of the smart phone as their first considerations on whether or not to give one to their child. They will be able to call or text them, and can use GPS apps to keep track of their location for safety and general soundness of mind.
Some parents simply give in to the popularity of every child possessing one, and desire to spare their children of FoMO, “Fear of Missing Out.”
The danger is the unrestricted, unmanaged device.
When you hand your child an unrestricted, unmanaged Smartphone, or any device that has internet connectivity, you are handing them all the information that the world can provide them, and that includes illicit adult content; and despite all the effort that can be made to prevent them from accessing this content, there are plenty of ways around these barriers.
It is vital that parents build the playground of their children’s lives. There are fences in our backyards for a reason, but even the fences can be climbed over, or other entities can enter through the fence.
What are some things that parents can do to help bolster the protection of their children from illicit content on the internet? And what are things families can utilize when children access this kind of content?
One service that can help parents is the Bark App. It gives parents a lot of power over building the necessary boundaries that can help protect their children. The Application is smart, and can notify you about concerning messages your children are sending or receiving. Bark is even coming out with their own phone to add even more security. Here is a Youtube instructional video about Bark. You should also check out this Youtube Channel that published the video called Protecting Young Eyes
Imagine the smartphone, or any electronic device, like it is a playground. It should be a place for children to run, learn, climb, and play games, but not without rules or restrictions. Children should not be allowed to climb on parts of the playground that could hurt them, and children should be given guidance on how to avoid being harmed by strangers. Children should be taught not to wander away from the playground, and potentially get harmed or lost. Children should be told when play on the playground is appropriate, and when it is time to “go home” or unplug. Parents should make efforts to pay attention to their children’s safety on the playground, and how they are interacting with their peers. Parents can greatly benefit their children by modeling the use of the playground to better lead their children to healthy play.
Here is a list of rules you should consider when introducing electronic devices to children.
Even when rules are followed, children tend to still stumble and get hurt. That by no means is an indication of your failure, but a testament that even rules are not strong enough to perfectly protect. So what is out there that can help children who have already been exposed to illicit content?
Play therapy is an excellent opportunity to discuss all of this with your children, but also an ideal environment to heal after children are already exposed to illicit content. One of the ways I learn from kids is to play games with them, and often the activity of play builds enough rapport to begin discussing sensitive subjects. Children want to have quality time with someone who teaches them that they are important; and oftentimes, there is a significant freedom and candidness that children feel when they are talking with someone they can trust who exists outside of their life circle. Despite whatever impression children give about how they dislike rules, children actually really benefit from them and want them, and giving them guidance on what restrictions they should place on the content they seek out can really help them in the long run.
One reason I am able to so easily learn about children is the rapport I build with them through play, but also how privy I am to internet culture. Believe me, like many parents, a lot of it goes over my head, but I have made specific efforts to maintain a present awareness of internet culture. As I teach them they are valuable, they want to share more of themselves with me, and the things they get excited about. Sometimes they share things that can be alarming, like what they watch on their phone, and in this instance my role would never be to embarrass or shame or to cause them guilt, but to teach them I care for them enough to encourage them to pursue other content, and often I make opportunities for them to process this with their parents.
Parents, you have an excellent opportunity to provide a very safe environment for your children in regards to their devices: like implementing device rules, and installing restriction applications like Bark. While rules and restrictions are helpful, parents should also give their children a proper model of phone use–if you are modeling constant, unrestricted phone interaction, your children will follow suit. When the rules and restrictions fail, Play therapy is an excellent avenue to help inspire conversation, and teach both child and parent to connect more effectively over these topics and others. Help your children be transparent with you by teaching them that what excites them matters, and that they are important and valuable to you–and prove it by investing time with them.
About the Author: Ryan started his career in counseling around January 2016. Ryan operates as the Office Director of our East Texas Location, and specializes in Men, couples, and children as young as six years old. Ryan is EMDR trained, and has a passion for telling stories. Learn more about Ryan at his website.
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I believe we all need a safe place to explore the issues that may be preventing us from experiencing a full and satisfying life. My greatest reward as a therapist is helping my clients examine ways to make the changes in their lives that will allow them to look forward to the future with hope. I am a bilingual (Spanish-English) LPC.
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