Forget Nickelodeon and TGIF (remember that, my fellow Xennials?) — YouTube is the modern tween’s go-to platform for video content. But with so many channels, it’s hard to know what’s appropriate for your kid. What are the best YouTube channels for kids today?
We’ve rounded up four YouTubers popular with tweens and reviewed both their content and their offscreen behavior. Use this information to help you make an informed decision for your family.
MrBeast (@Mrbeast) is widely credited with pioneering a genre of YouTube videos featuring expensive stunts and has the most subscribers of any individual account on YouTube.
MrBeast has worked hard to build his image as a “nice guy,” and his videos often involve gifting large sums of money. He’s also a very active philanthropist, donating hundreds of thousands of dollars earned in brand deals.
While MrBeast’s recent videos are clean, he’s come under fire for using homophobic slurs in the past on Twitter and making homophobic jokes in some of his older YouTube videos.
Approach with caution
MrBeast’s offensive content has been deleted, and what remains is appropriate for younger audiences. But we can’t in good conscience recommend a homophobic creator. The reason we’re using an at-your-own-discretion ranking is our belief in the capacity for change.
The content in question is from when MrBeast was quite a bit younger. He’s since spoken about the homophobia he learned growing up and his efforts to break away from that. More recently, he’s been outspoken against transphobia. Whether it’s genuine growth or an attempt to save his brand remains to be seen.
If you let your tween watch his channel, it’s worth keeping a close eye on the content they consume and having a conversation about the controversies.
Jojo Siwa is a former Dance Moms star known for her dance, music, and lifestyle videos. Although Siwa's popularity grew on YouTube, in more recent years, she has switched to sharing content on TikTok, Instagram, and other social media platforms.
An outspoken member of the LGBTQ+ community, Siwa recently competed on Dancing with the Stars in the show’s first ever same-sex dancing partnership. Her videos are fun, wholesome, and appropriate for kids of all ages.
Siwa’s been linked to a few questionable products over the years, including a board game featuring inappropriate content for younger fans and makeup that was found to contain asbestos. To her credit, Siwa responded promptly and the products in question were pulled.
Siwa’s online presence is vibrant and fun, and she’s a solid role model, particularly for girls and LGBTQ+ kiddos. Some of her content can cross the line into inappropriate territory, so parents should be prepared to discuss sensitive topics with their kids. Also, be mindful when purchasing her branded products.
Sings' wacky videos can be genuinely funny. It might be counterintuitive, but it takes a lot of talent to perform this badly.
Ballinger has recently been embroiled in multiple controversies, including a (possible) blackface incident, allegations of racism by a former employee, and accusations of inappropriate communication with underage fans.
While most of the controversy and alleged bad behavior has happened off her YouTube channel, the drama has affected Ballinger's public persona (and TikTok comments). And, if the allegations are true, Ballinger is far from a good role model for tweens. She is currently on a social media hiatus, but if she returns, it’s wise to keep your kiddo away from her channels — at least until the details become clearer.
It’s impossible to do a YouTube roundup without mentioning PewDiePie (@Pewdiepie), a wildly popular gamer who has reigned as one of the top Youtubers for more than a decade.
PewDiePie is known for his upbeat personality and unique takes. He’s not afraid to poke fun at himself, teaching viewers to not take themselves too seriously. Offscreen, PewDiePie has used his fame to raise millions of dollars for the World Wildlife Fund.
In addition to being caught in too many controversies to name, including anti-semetic posts, PewDiePie’s content is known for crude humor and adult language. He also plays games on his channel that feature violence, horror, and sexualized characters.
Aside from the controversies, PewDiePie’s channel is decidedly not tween friendly. Common Sense Media suggests it’s appropriate for kids ages 16+, but even then, we advise approaching it with caution and watching the channel yourself before giving it the okay. If you do let your teenagers watch it, it’s worth a conversation about why some of his content and remarks are not okay.
This is only a snapshot of the internet personalities your tween might follow online. Oftentimes, a YouTuber's presence extends to include other channels — so, your child may follow PewDiePie on YouTube and Twitch, and Jojo Siwa on TikTok. If your child follows an internet personality, it's a good idea to understand what that person posts. You can use a parental monitoring tool like BrightCanary to see what your child consumes on YouTube and social media.
Parents, have regular check-ins with your child about internet personalities. They can be a force for good (and entertainment), but they can also expose your child to sensitive, inappropriate topics they may not be ready to handle on their own. Talk to your child about how their content makes them feel, how much time they spend with their favorite influencers, and what to do if they become over-attached.