From Play Buttons to Playgrounds: The YouTube Dilemma

Leigh Kellogg
3 min readOct 25, 2023


AI generated image

Let me start by saying that I love watching content. Specifically, I love YouTube. I lose time on that platform. So much so that I had to set a YouTube timer on my phone. I love that I can learn about pretty much anything on that platform. I’ll also note because it’s important — I am 40.

My son also loves watching content. Specifically, he loves YouTube. Similarly to me, he loses time on that platform. So much so that his father and I recently took it away completely. I don’t love that he can learn about pretty much anything on that platform. I’ll also note because it’s important — my son is 9.

So why does age matter so much here in my position on the benefits of a platform like YouTube?

Unlike my son, I grew up in a world where learning new things meant you went out and experienced them IRL. When I started riding a bike, I started on the bike. I fell a lot. I scraped knees. I knew that was a part of the experience, and I was proud of my small wins. Similarly, when I started competitive gymnastics, I could only compare myself against the universe of gymnasts in my small town orbit. Eventually, I graduated to the state of GA, but the universe of comparison was small.

My son’s experience is dramatically different. When he decided to start gymnastics, in addition to actual gym time, he spent time digging into the sport on YouTube. YouTube sent him down a rabbit hole algorithm of elite and savant 8 year old gymnasts. He was blown away. His universe of comparison was wide and also centered on the absolute best at his age. Immediately, he was hard on himself. He couldn’t appreciate his small wins and accomplishments in the gym. He felt that he was behind before he even really started.

This is deeply sad, and leads me to believe that this is contributing to some of the anxiety and hopelessness a lot of young people are experiencing today. With younger girls, the comparison generally comes from Instagram. But boys are not immune either. They are a naturally competitive group. When you’re constantly comparing yourself and everything you’re interested in against the expert creator class on a global platform, you’re going to feel like you’re missing the mark.

So like I said, my husband and I took YouTube away. Gasp. It was a dark day in our household, but we’ve seen incredible shifts in our son. It’s been almost a month and he’s happier, more engaged in IRL activities, and appreciates his wins more. When he lost YouTube, he decided to start skateboarding. In a panic, he asked me, “Mom, how am I going to learn to skateboard without YouTube?” “Get on the board,” I responded. And he did.

He’s been spending time at a local skate park, making friends and watching others try and fail at all ages. He jumps for excitement when he accomplishes a new skill. He takes tips from more experienced skaters, and encourages others around him. The experience is vastly different. His universe is smaller and he can grow it AS HE GROWS in the activity and not before that.

In conclusion, I do believe there is good content out there for kids. But the algorithms aren’t always kind, and kids aren’t developed enough to make these kinds of decisions for themselves. Pulling back on YouTube has been a big push forward for our family. I’m sure over time we will allow some use, but hopefully he’s too busy skateboarding outside to care.

— —

I’m a data strategist and marketing researcher. To learn more about me and what I do, or to start a conversation, check out my website.



Leigh Kellogg

Passions include momming, learning, making, and writing. Life motto: Question everything. Website: Social: