Shane Dawson

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Shane Dawson TV Poster Image
Popular with kids
Shorts with iffy content, language, occasional earnestness.

Parents say

age 15+
Based on 19 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 33 reviews

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The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Dawson takes on many topics in his videos, some of which parents may not wish young children to see. But he's generally on the side of respect and dignity for all, and has a sense of humor about himself, particularly in recent years. There are some murky spots in his past, though. He's been criticized for a series of blackface videos in which he wears dark makeup to play characters some have called racist tropes. Dawson's first viral video also claimed (in jest) that he'd murder a young YouTube star. 

Positive Role Models & Representations

Dawson, an ordinary young man with a talent for making videos that millions want to watch, is typically humble, thoughtful, and kind, even if his subject matter can be too mature for the tweens who may be watching. He's honest about his personal issues: He suffers from body dysmorphic disorder and struggles to maintain his weight after losing 150 pounds; his parents, particularly his stepfather, were abusive; he came out as bisexual in 2015 (and is currently happily coupled with a boyfriend), and his alcoholic mother sometimes calls him "f--got." Earlier videos are more likely to contain offensive stereotypes, particularly the "character" videos in which Dawson portrays stereotypes: a sassy black woman, a nerd, a gangster, a Latina woman named Fruit Lupe. 


Some videos, particularly Dawson's regular "creepy videos," target topics that may frighten young viewers, such as medical mistakes in hospitals that injured or sometimes killed patients, deaths by car crashes, terrifying internet videos, deaths that happened on live TV, and other dark topics. These videos include real news footage that graphically shows deaths: a man who shoots school board members at a meeting, a man who sets himself on fire attempting suicide, teens injured in a car crash. 


All kinds of topics are likely to come up in Dawson's videos, including jokes about, references to, and sometimes extended anecdotes about same- and opposite-sex kissing, sexual practices, sex toys, masturbation, infidelity, being a "top" vs. a "bottom," orgasms, sexual arousal, online pickups, a vintage Canadian game show in which the host coerced pre-pubescent girls into kissing him, and more. One early video jokes about a woman drugging a co-worker with MDMA and putting an ad for casual sex online on her behalf, and then encouraging a respondent who asks, "Can I kill her?"


Cursing is frequent, usually flippant: "get the f--k out of here," "they made a f--kup," "it scared the s--t out of me." Other language includes "a--hole," "hell," "damn," "bulls--t," "pissed," "f--got." 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

When he first began making videos, Dawson was fiercely anti-drug and -alcohol, but in later videos, he talks about drinking (in one anecdote he talks about drinking four bottles of liquor without feeling drunk) and smoking pot and eating marijuana candies in an attempt to deaden the pain of a broken leg (it was unsuccessful). He sometimes refers to drinking in videos made after he reached legal drinking age, but emphasizes he doesn't get drunk. 

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.


User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byKayemzee July 1, 2020


This person sexualizes children (including crude gestures aimed at an 11 year old girl) and dons blackface in some of his videos. This media is dangerous for ch... Continue reading
Adult Written bymsalexnaseri June 29, 2020

I grew up with Shane and don’t think it’s appropriate for kids at all

After viewing Shane through the eyes of an adult and future mother, I can say that I will never allow my child to watch his content. It makes me more weary of a... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byAmy_.french December 17, 2017

it depends on the person

Ive been watching shane for a few years but others who may not be as mature probably should not watch shane due to some of the language used and topics covered.... Continue reading
Teen, 17 years old Written byMarthaReviews December 26, 2017

Great Content... Sometimes creepy and a bit iffy

Shane Dawson is hilarious, creative and his videos are good quality. He does make conspiracy theory videos that though are extremely interesting and cool, do in... Continue reading

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? 

TV details

  • Premiere date: March 10, 2008
  • Cast: Shane Dawson
  • Network: YouTube
  • Genre: Comedy
  • TV rating: NR
  • Available on: Streaming
  • Last updated: June 29, 2020

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