Is YouTube's algorithm hurting your ministry?

YouTube's algorithm does not want my son to see our church's content. The algorithm wants him to watch YouTube continually. How? Show him something he loves the most. Legos.

Grant Glas
May 13, 2021
Church Software

Platforms like YouTube use algorithms to decide what kind of videos and stories you're most likely to enjoy based on past content you've watched or engaged with.

Sometimes it can be helpful like if YouTube recommends a traveling video, it thinks you'll like. Posting your church's kids' content on YouTube can result in unintended consequences leading your families away from your church content and into junk videos. If you are a parent like me, YouTube is an ever-present distraction in your house. Our kids start by watching something parent-approved and 10 minutes later watching someone else playing video games.

My son is four years old, and we allow him screen time to watch educational videos. Over the weekend, we share church videos with him. I've noticed he rarely watches all the church videos. Why? YouTube algorithm does not want him to see our church's content. YouTube's algorithm wants my son to watch YouTube continually. How? Show him something he loves the most. Legos.

Algorithms can trap people in an echo chamber where their beliefs and likes are never challenged and always shown. My son loves Legos, and YouTube knows that. Just take a look at what he sees while watching Sunday content.

From my son's YouTube Kids iPad app. Lego videos circled in red.

From my son's YouTube desktop view. Lego videos circled in red.

"Algorithms can reinforce the same points of view over and over again, trapping you inside a recommendation bubble," says Technologist Tomo Kihara. "So if you're skeptical about climate change, YouTube can recommend even more content denying climate change — confirming the bias that you already have," says Kihara. That's problematic on platforms like YouTube, where the AI recommended over 70% of views.

So how do you know your kids are in a recommendation bubble? "I think the only way to know you are in a recommendation bubble is to watch their YouTube environment," says Kihara.

Next time your kids are watching YouTube, look at their recommendation bubbles the algorithm creates for your kid. What does it look like? Is it helping or hurting your ministry's message?

Using Playlister, you can create a YouTube replace that is only ministry-based content for your Church. The Video Hub is one central location to display all your Church's content. Families can watch the material at their own pace, much the same way you can watch Netflix at your speed (binge or spread out viewing). Also, with the Video Hub, you know your kids are in a safe, controlled viewing space, unlike YouTube, which will show ads and play random videos during and after initial viewing is over. Our goal with the Video Hub is to make it a safe and ideal place your families can visit to watch kid's ministry content.

With over 100,000 families tuning into Kids' Ministry content via Playlister each weekend, we've learned a lot about engaging with families at home. Here are three examples of some of the most thoughtful Video Hubs from our partners.

"The video hub is amazing! Parents and team no longer have to navigate through FB or YouTube. (let’s face it, YouTube has a million distractions! It is the ultimate flow chart from the 80’s in video form, lol)" - Tish L. Hill City Church

Here is an example of the Video Hub from Woodland Community Church - https://at-home.playlister.app/woodland

Are you interested in the Video Hub? Here is a promo code to try for free for 30 days: FRVH

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