Is it OK for your Kids to Watch Others Play Video Games on YouTube?

If you have children under the age of 8, they probably spend approximately 65% of their online time on YouTube.

If your kids are older, they still spend more than a third of their online time viewing videos on YouTube. Parents frequently ask me if it’s OK that their kids watch others play video games. If you are concerned that your children are wasting their time watching other kids play video games on YouTube, we have the solution. Our team of college student/gamers, lead by the irrepressible Ryan Smith, has created hundreds of Let’s Play videos of popular games such as Minecraft, Astroneer, Star Wars BattleFront, and Portal 2 that are great fun and digitally nutritious! Your kids can have fun while watching an expert play the game and learn just a bit about how skills such as planning, organization, flexibility, and memory help in being a successful gamer.

Kids thoroughly enjoy watching Let’s Play videos, where they view someone else playing a video game. While many parents are bemused by this phenomenon, perhaps we need to look  in the mirror, at least those of us who enjoy watching other people play football, tennis, baseball, basketball, and even golf on television. There is no questioning that popular Let’s Play creators are celebrities. One of the more popular YouTubers, Dan TDM, recently began touring the United States, putting on shows describing how he plays Minecraft. Fourteen million subscribers on YouTube have been vocal enough to sell out auditoriums all over the United States in an effort to meet him.

Most of the popular Let’s Play videos are designed to be entertaining and informative. The information they provide centers on tips and hints about game play. Kids who want to get better at game play often rely upon experts to help them. While years ago they might have asked an older sibling or used cheat codes to help them, nowadays, watching someone else play on YouTube is preferred.

LearningWorks for Kids Let’s Plays are designed to be entertaining first and informative second. While we let kids know about strategies for getting better at the game, we also sneak in a bit about  game-based skills that might help them in their day-to-day lives. Our strategy is similar to that of cereal makers who add vitamins to their sugary fare or to orange juice companies that sneak in some  calcium to their citrus concoctions.

The goal of our Let’s Plays (after having fun!!) is to take game-based skills and make them into real-world skills. We are very careful not to be overly pedantic:  we don’t want kids to watch these videos and think that we are trying to teach them something. We’d rather that they learn by having fun and maybe being a bit more reflective. After all, one of the best ways for kids to learn is to apply metacognitive skills, to think about their thinking, an act that certainly applies to kids who love gaming.

As noted above, Ryan Smith, a recent graduate from the University of Rhode Island produces our Let’s Play videos. Ryan is a certified gamer who has been playing video games since the age of 4. He has been creating videos on his own channel for many years and has thousands of followers.

LW4K videos are a fun and educational choice for parents who are concerned about their kids watching Let’s Play videos. Here are some hints to get your kids to try our videos. Be careful when you encourage them to watch the videos. Present them as fun videos that you heard about. Let them know that we are looking for suggestions from kids to create other Let’s Plays videos. Let us know what else your kids are looking for in the comments below and we’ll get to work on them.


(LW4K even has some for parents. Check them out yourself!)

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