With YouTube and other social media growing, parents try to find a healthy balance – Orange County Register

ANAHEIM With a shell-shocked look in his eyes, Marcus Carr stood in front of the Anaheim Convention Center and watched his 12-year-old daughter, Mia, join a pack of screaming girls running for a chance photo with an online celebrity.

Carr shook his head and shrugged. at the comical scene.

“This is just crazy,” said Carr, 58, of Vacaville.

It’s hard not to miss them. The vacant and surprised look in the eyes of many parents stood out among a sea of tweens and teens at VidCon, the eighth annual YouTube and online-video convention, at the Anaheim Convention Center.

The four-day event, which ends Saturday, June 24 and will have attracted as many as 36,000 people, many youths from 10 to 25 years old, highlights the popularity of online social media platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, Instagram and Twitch – and the content creators behind the niche.

As these platforms grow and change the media, and society’s landscape, there’s a lingering concern among many parents about what their kids are watching online, and who they are meeting.

“It’s a debate my wife and I have all the time,” Carr said. “Kids nowadays think having social-media friends is the same as having real friends. We keep telling her (Mia) there is a different skill-set involved with meeting new people in real life, and if you don’t have that, that’s a problem.”

YouTube, the leading online video website, gets more than 1.5 billion viewers visiting the site every month, said Susan Wojcicki, YouTube’s CEO.

Nichole Becker, vice president of research for DEFY Media, a company that focuses on producing digital content for millennials, undertakes an annual study on youth under age 25: Last year, 96 percent consumed content from digital sources.

They spent a quarter of their online time watching digital celebrities, another quarter on people they don’t know, and 15 percent looking at videos from friends and family, Becker said. The rest of online time went to socializing.

“What we’ve found, to a certain extent, is how YouTube and other sites have become a surrogate parent,” Becker said. “Parents – unfortunately, the economic reality is both are usually working or a single parent or too busy and don’t have time.

“Many youths we’ve spoken to said they go on YouTube to look up, ‘How do I do xyz?’ or ‘What is xyz?’ … They don’t have a parent at home to ask those things.”

The most popular video personalities are called influencers. Tyler Oakley gained fame video-blogging about what it’s like being openly gay in the Midwest. Jeffree Star shows how to apply makeup. Kat Blaque talks about feminism and race relations.

“We’re connecting with real people,” said Brittney Seeley, a 17-year-old from Charlotte, N.C., a fan of various influencers. “It’s nice to watch them going through the same thing we’re going through. We watch them grow.”

Seeley’s mom, Ana, said it takes awhile to get used to the “openness” of these influencers and other random people sharing their personal and private family issues online. It’s completely opposite from how she was raised.

“When I was growing up, a lot of issues were swept under the rug,” said Ana Seeley, 42. “Honestly, I really like that they are more open and talking about the problems they have. They find a community and a support system.”

Marshall Tsien, 49, of Nashau, New Hampshire, said the key is to find a balance. His nine-year-old son, Nathan, communicates with a lot of people online when he plays video games even adults, Tsien said.

His nine-year-old son, Nathan, communicates with a lot of people online when he plays video games, even adults.

“I don’t try to lecture him,” the father said. “You just have to help them find their own way. The world has changed, and this is how people are communicating these days.”

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