Video sharing is the act of recording video and uploading it on a website that allows others to view it. Video may also be shared by sending it to others via email or cell phone.
Video hosting websites have enabled organizations like non-profits and educational institutions spread the word of their missions and gain momentum to support some very worthy causes. It allows people to easily distribute their message to a large audience and adds a personal touch while saving both time and money.
Sharing videos for social purposes has proven to be as popular, if not more popular than sharing videos for business purposes. Individuals may upload videos for reasons ranging from voicing their opinions on a vlog (video blog) to sharing the personal statement section of their college entrance application to showcasing a talent.
Over the last five years, there has been extensive research about the uses of video sharing on websites and cellular phones among different demographic groups. A study released in April, 2010 about sharing videos via cell phones shows "an interesting counter-trend, with more 12-13 year-olds sending/receiving video than those 14 and older (41% vs. 27%)."  The graph below summarizes the full spectrum of photo and video usage for cell phones:
The comfort level and higher frequency of sending and receiving video can be a cause for alarm to parents, and should be. The content and subject matter of their videos is most likely harmless – forwarding popular funny videos from the Internet, like the sneezing panda. Many parents are concerned about how easy it is for their children to acquire and/or use video technology. Webcams are affordable and easily accessible, and many laptops on the market today come equipped with a built-in webcam.
Technological advances have allowed the average consumer to acquire discreet video recording devices, and the proliferation of video capabilities on laptops (webcams and built-in webcams on laptops) and cell phones means that anyone of our children – - or anyone of us for that matter – - could potentially be recorded on video at anytime without our knowledge. With children in particular, a silly moment at a party during which they may exercise bad judgment (or no judgment) may be caught on camera by a friend and live forever on video. One child may send the silly video to another on a cell phone, or by email, and if interest is high enough, a video can go 'viral' within hours and cause potential emotional scarring for the subject of the video. The fact that "57% of [adult] internet users have watched videos online and most of them share what they watch with others, shows an increasing trend that a video posted or shared will not only be viewed, but passed along to others.
An issue that is just as plausible as a child being videotaped without their knowledge is the child who purposefully creates their own video and sends it to one person. In this case, the most frequent cause for concern is if they are in a relationship, and an intimate video is created to share with their mate. The danger in this situation is when the two break-up, and if it is an unpleasant parting, one half of the couple has fuel to embarrass the other. Unfortunately, the likelihood of this scenario is more and more likely, as according to a survey conducted by The National Campaign, "22% of teen girls and 18% of teen boys have sent or posted nude or semi-nude pictures or video of themselves. Another popular scenario becoming more common-place is that of teens 'sexting' – sending sexually explicit text messages, or partial or fully nude pictures of themselves – to someone as a way to flirt. Read about and discuss sexting here on the SafetyWeb blog.
The creation of user-generated videos and sending or posting such private content is treated different generationally. An article published by CNET News describes the 'Naked Generation', and the ease with which twenty-somethings post personal information about themselves, their relationships, and their partners. They are a generation living online. Our children witness the actions of the generation just preceding theirs and are desensitized to 'private' information being shared publicly, and further blur the line themselves. The consequences of actions taken in a passionate moment are not considered until it is too late.
The effects on an individual as the result of a video being distributed without permission can be devastating, far-reaching and long lasting. Obvious immediate effects are loss of self-esteem, embarrassment, loss of friends and social alienation, which can lead to depression and other emotional issues. Longer-lasting effects can range from losing candidacy for a job or becoming ineligible to matriculate at an institute of higher learning. In a nutshell, some of life's milestone moments for a young adult may be ruined because of a decision they made as a young child or teen.
It is important to speak to your child about the responsible use of video on their cell phones and email accounts. Some states have amended laws about distribution of child pornography to include forwarding video via cell phone and electronic mail, or sexting. Some states are charging participants with felony counts and they are required to register on the sex offender list, which can affect them for life. In some cases, it is not clear if the age of the distributor is taken into consideration. Parents should take every opportunity to speak to their children and educate them about this danger. Discuss this issue on the SafetyWeb blog here. If your child receives a video that shows partial or full nudity of one of their classmates or friends, they should delete it immediately and never forward it to anyone else.
There is a proliferation of video sharing sites on the Internet. Because the sites have different offerings and goals, the terms of service for the sites vary. Some of the most popular sites include: Photobucket, Flickr, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo! Video, Google Video, Metacafe, Revver and Blip.tv.
A few bloggers have explored the differences between some of the terms of so that users have a better understanding of important issues like intellectual property, and privacy rights. A brief article comparing terms of service agreements for several different video-hosting sites can be read by clicking here. Wikipedia also has a page called Comparison of Video Services which offers a very inclusive list of video hosting sites, and some profile information about those sites, including their terms of service.
Opening up the lines of communication and talking to your child is the best way to prepare them to use video technology responsibly. Teach your child that if they feel uncomfortable posing for a photo or video, it probably isn't the best thing to do, and that they can stop at any time. Tell them it is okay to ask you if they receive a message and they are unsure if it is a 'good' message or a 'bad' message. Spend time with your child so that they are able develop their own judgment and readily identify good and bad images and videos. Teach them to trust their judgment, delete the bad images, and tell you if they are really offensive or potentially dangerous.
- CommonSense Media
-American Academy of Pediatrics
-ABC Good Morning America
- American Medical Network