COVID-19 Daily Life: What is YouTube and how to use it

COVID-19 (also called the corona virus) is changing the way we all do things for the next few months, with social distancing and non-essential shut-downs our new normal. To help you move with the times, stay connected and keep entertained, the Digital Ready for Daily Life program has put together info, tips, tricks, hacks and how-to’s for all things digital in your daily life.

You’ve probably heard of YouTube and maybe even clicked on a few cat videos over the years, but did you know that YouTube is not only one of the biggest search engines next to Google, it is also a treasure trove of entertainment and education available for free while you are self isolating at home.

YouTube is big, there are billions of hours of content on it, and the hardest part is finding what you want. Luckily it has an excellent search function, so you can quickly find what you are after. YouTube has two types of users:

  • Video creators (people who have channels and upload videos to them); and
  • Video viewers (people who watch videos, interact with videos and subscribe to channels).

There are all sorts of ways you can watch YouTube videos. They include:

  • Clicking on and watching a suggested video or searching for one.
  • Downloading the YouTube mobile app for iOS or Android and watching a suggested video or searching for one.
  • Watching a YouTube video that was embedded into a post on a social network (like Facebook or Twitter).
  • Watching a YouTube video that was embedded into a web page or blog post.
  • Watching a YouTube video by clicking on a link to the video shared via email, text message, social media, etc.

In order to get personalized video suggestions, create playlists, comment on other videos and subscribe to channels, you need to create a YouTube account. If you have a Google email address you can use that to start a new YouTube account.

There are lots of benefits to creating and using a YouTube account, even if you never plan on using it for creating your own channel to upload videos. With a YouTube account, you can:

  • Get personalized recommendations for video to watch on the home page, based on your viewing history.
  • Subscribe to your favorite channels so you can easily find their latest videos.
  • Receive notifications from channels whenever they upload new videos.
  • Support your favorite YouTubers by interacting with their videos (liking them and leaving comments).
  • Keep track of your video viewing history.
  • Save videos to watch later.
  • Create your own public or private video playlists.

There are lots of ways you can find what you want to watch on YouTube. On the YouTube platform itself, you can:

Since there's such a wealth of content on YouTube, the platform makes it easy to save videos you want to watch another time to your Watch Later list or to a playlist you created.

To add a video to your Watch Later list, just click the Add to button and then choose the list you want to add the video to. You can also choose to create a new playlist.

If you find a video that you like, you'll notice several options below the video player. You can:

  • Give the video a thumbs up or a thumbs down depending on whether you liked it or not;
  • Leave a comment;
  • Reply to another user's comment; or
  • Like another user's comment.

Many YouTube creators have an active community who you will see commenting and interacting with each other. You can be part of communities on YouTube too, it’s a great way to find like-minded people and make new friends.

With the amount of content on YouTube, it is almost limitless what you can find on there. Aside from movies and music and commentary, you can also find a lot of videos that teach you how to do new things. Pretty much anything you want to learn is on YouTube, from crafts to languages to cooking to woodwork to fermenting to recycling - you name it, you can find it.

However, users should be aware that although YouTube attempts to filter out and remove content that most people find offensive, some content could be considered "questionable" and/or offensive. If you are allowing children to view YouTube content, you can activate parental controls via the Restricted Mode see instructions here or watch this handy video. Be sure to manually turn on Restricted Mode in the browsers on all other devices, mobile phones, tablets and computers they may use.

What a great time while you are socially isolated to dedicate yourself to learning a new skill, engaging with a new community, and being entertained for free. You just need to ensure that you have plenty of data on your phone or Wi-Fi plan, so you don’t use up all your data with your new found YouTube love.