The other day as my friend pumped her gas, I heard from inside the car a noise I had become familiar with “gas station TV,” one of the many screens that we constantly have in our face.

It just kind of makes my eyes roll as I think to myself, “do people really think they need a screen for the five minutes they’re standing at the pump?” 

But then I think of the time I actually sat and watched one of the shows as I fueled up for the day.

 It’s like I want to complain about it, but I’m guilty of doing it myself — just like I’ve caught myself complaining about how moms, especially young moms, have been using YouTube for a babysitter more and more.

My nephew watches YouTube; I constantly see children in restaurants watching devices as they wait for their food; I watch episodes of Teen Mom where they never get in the floor and play with the children and as soon as they hop in the car, they’re on the device, or they use the device as a punishment tool when one of their children starts misbehaving in the car. They threaten to take it away, and the child goes bonkers. 

To me, YouTube for children is scary.

They’re getting addicted to screen time before they reach the age of 10, and who knows what they’re really watching all of the time.

Unless there are parental controls on the device, the child could be searching something they think is harmless, maybe some game that they heard their friends talking about at school, but their search may actually unintentionally take them to something PG13 or R-Rated. 

And we’ve all seen animated shows or movies that were not for children – think “Adult Swim” or “Sausage Party.” A child may come across an animated video on YouTube thinking it’s a cartoon, and it’s not.

Then that child has just learned some new choice words from which mommy and daddy were trying to shield them.

YouTube has over a billion users – almost one-third of all people on the internet – and each day those users watch a billion hours of video with over 10,000 to choose from, according to its website. 

Look at what all they have to choose from. 

They also say on their website that YouTube is not for pornography, harmful or dangerous content, hateful content, violent or graphic content, harassment and cyberbullying, spam, scams or threats, and they also offer a “flagging” feature that allows viewers to “flag” a video deemed inappropriate that will then be reviewed by YouTube staff.

Even though they have these rules, I’ve seen plenty of videos that break those rules.

So, be careful with your children.

People like me criticize children and parents for being on devices, but can we blame them? 

I know my phone is in use almost 24/7 from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. It’s even my alarm clock, so it’s one of the first things I touch in the morning.

comScore’s 2017 Cross Platform Future in Focus report says the average American adult spends two hours, 51 minutes on their smartphone every day, but I think that’s being generous. 

According to MediaKit, the majority of that time is spent on social media including YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram and Twitter. 

They broke it down to an average of 40 minutes on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat, 15 minutes on Instagram and one minute on Twitter.

I don’t know about you, but I know I spend way more than 35 minutes on Facebook a day, and I know people who post almost every second of their day on Snapchat. Plenty of news media people spend the majority of their day updating news on Twitter or looking for news on Twitter.

I think these studies are grossly off. But, even a couple of hours of use are too many.

My point is we all know children watch and pick up everything we do, and when they see us constantly with a phone or a tablet, they’re going to think they’re supposed to have a device too.

So, maybe we all need to take a step back from the screens in our lives. 

Ashley Hodge reports for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com

Ashley Hodge is a staff writer for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact her at ahodge@gazettevirginian.com