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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Shane Dawson's YouTube content is distributed on two channels: Shane (the channel Dawson uses most often, at press time), and Shane Dawson TV (his first channel, with mostly earlier content and some sporadic later posts). Content on Shane Dawson TV tends to be older, and occasionally contains offensive material, particularly the "character" videos in which Dawson portrays stereotypes: a sassy black woman, a nerd, a gangster, a Latina woman named Fruit Lupe. It's worth noting that Dawson's first viral video depicted him joking about murdering a young YouTube broadcaster, and one popular older video involves a joke about one woman drugging another with MDMA and offering her up for sex online. The characters are largely dropped for the Shane channel, with Dawson presenting short videos on a variety of topics, often more serious than his early videos and occasionally shocking: murders, suicides, conspiracies, accidental deaths. A series of "creepy" videos intentionally takes on dark topics and frequently contains real footage of injuries or deaths. Some videos veer into the sexual, with references to same- and opposite-sex kissing, sexual practices, sex toys, masturbation, infidelity, being a "top" vs. a "bottom," orgasms, sexual arousal, online pickups, etc. Language is frequent: "f--k," "s--t," "bitch," and plenty of vulgar expressions: "they made a f--kup," "pissed off." Once a teetotaler, Dawson has smoked (e-cigarettes) in at least one video, and refers to drinking and smoking pot (to control pain from a broken leg) in others, though he claims not to drink enough to get drunk. All that said, Dawson is a relatable and generally respectful host who is honest about his life, background, and foibles -- kids could find a worse role model to emulate. Please note: Our reviewers watch between one and two hours of content to determine the general appropriateness of each YouTube channel. Some channels contain more variety within their content than others; we do our best to capture the channel's overall subject and tone to help parents make the best choice for their family. We recommend parent co-viewing of YouTube content for kids under 13.
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What's the story?
SHANE DAWSON is a popular YouTube personality who has millions of subscribers on his two current YouTube channels, Shane Dawson TV (which contains content from Dawson's debut onwards) and Shane (the channel used to distribute most of Dawson's current videos). Dawson's first channel was launched in 2008, and content consists mainly of short skits, "character" pieces in which Dawson personifies different fictional people, music video parodies, film trailer parodies, and original music. The Shane channel was launched in 2010, and Dawson posts new videos weekly. These videos may be parodies and skits, collaborative stunts with other famous YouTubers, revealing personal vlogs, or compendiums of real-life odd and/or grim happenings that Dawson calls his "creepy" videos, among other content.
Is it any good?
Occasionally crass, sometimes dark, and always homegrown, Shane Dawson's content may be too much for young kids, but it's good food for thought for teens and tweens. Dawson's "creepy" series is one of his most popular, and though it does contain a lot of images and ideas that parents may cringe at, it's catnip for viewers exactly at the right age to question everything the grown-ups have been telling them. Conspiracies exist! Strange things happen! People do terrible things, and get away with them! Even adults struggle with these concepts, and many parents would prefer that their kids not grapple with them, even though there is a real educational, if upsetting, edge to these videos.
Most parents would probably prefer that their kids stick to the music- and film-parody videos, which are silly and entertaining instead of disturbing, and Dawson's sketches, which poke fun at musical groups, fellow internet celebs, and ridiculous moments in pop culture. Aside from the occasional questionable racial stereotype (and the constant cursing), these videos are lighter and easier to digest. But like all YouTube creators, Dawson is only reined in by the platform's (very liberal) standards, and what his viewers click on and don't -- so if your kids watch his channel, they'll see material suitable for varying age groups.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why homegrown videos like those on Shane Dawson's channel are more popular with teen and tween viewers than televised skit shows like Saturday Night Live. What do the YouTube shows offer that network TV doesn't? What are the differences between the two?
How has the content Dawson puts out changed over time? Has the humor matured as he has? Does he take on different topics? Has he changed as a person? What age viewer did Dawson originally appeal to? Has that changed?
Many kids start watching YouTube videos while in elementary school. Should viewers this young watch Shane Dawson's channels? Why or why not? Would you mind watching any of his videos with your parents? Grandparents? Younger brothers or sisters?