So, you just found out your kid is watching ASMR videos, and the first question that pops into your mind is “what is this?” More importantly, you’re wondering “is this even safe for kids to watch?” Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
What is ASMR?
At first glance, ASMR is a bit . . . um . . . weird . . . and . . . uhh . . . awkward. We’re an ASMR website, and even we can admit that.
But, if you give it a chance, ASMR itself is not all that weird. Do you like the sound of a fizzing drink? The soothing voice of Bob Ross? Or, maybe you just really like getting a haircut, because it just . . . feels good. Well, that’s basically what ASMR is.
ASMR stands for “autonomous sensory meridian response,” which is an umbrella term to describe a variety of sensations and responses. Some people get it, and some don’t, and science has yet to really figure out why. For some of the people who do experience it, it’s the “tingling” feeling you have on your neck when you get a haircut. For others, it’s just the warm and relaxing feeling you get when a loved one asks about your day. And for other people, it simply describes the satisfaction of listening to certain sounds. At the end of the day though, most people enjoy ASMR because it helps them relax. Put in that context, it’s not so weird.
ASMR Trigger Videos
This is where it gets a bit awkward. To put it simply, most people can’t just go get a haircut every day when they want to relax. Not everyone has a loved one to give them loving attention whenever they need it. This is where we get to the weird, cavernous, rabbit hole of the internet—more commonly known as YouTube.
People upload videos on YouTube and other video platforms to mimic and digitally recreate these experiences on-demand. There’s pretty much a video for everything and anything. Haircuts, doctor exams, fortune tellers, and even just videos of people whispering. Here’s a crowd favorite so you can see it for yourself:
ASMR isn’t sexual, is it?
ASMR is not sexual . . . well, sort of. ASMR itself isn’t sexual. In 2015, Swansea University researchers “tested whether ASMR videos produced feelings of connectedness and sexual arousal,” concluding that “evidence suggests that ASMR is a non-sexual experience.”
That being said, because the internet is what it is, some people blend ASMR with sexual themes to get an audience (this is why we can’t have nice things). Not all ASMR is created equal. At ASMR Lounge, we generally see three categories of content.
The first category is filled with completely innocent and SFW (safe for work) content. A few content creators in this category are people like Gentle Whispering ASMR and Latte ASMR. They make high-quality SFW content.
The second category is filled with content creators who blend in a little “spice” to get viewers. Revealing outfits, girlfriend roleplays, flirty videos, and “waking up next to you” videos can be inappropriate for some younger viewers. To be clear, their content isn’t explicit and isn’t something to outrightly condemn. But, some parents might be uncomfortable with their kids watching it. It’s no different than Carl’s Junior using Kate Upton to sell burgers during the Super Bowl, which was unsurprisingly controversial to some. Sex sells, and on YouTube, you can guarantee that there are content creators using the oldest trick in the book to get viewers.
The third category is straight-up NSFW (not safe for work). If it exists on the internet, someone has turned it into porn (fun fact: this is Rule 34 of the internet). For better or for worse, that applies to ASMR as well. But, you can rest assured that this sort of content lives far away from the likes of YouTube. To be clear, you should not be letting your kids watch this category of content.
Are ASMR videos safe for kids to watch?
The answer to this one is a bit tricky. If you’re looking for a bunch of medical studies exploring the long-term health effects, you won’t find it. As WebMD puts it, “scientists have only recently started studying ASMR, and there’s a lot they don’t know about it.”
That being said, the consensus among the parenting community that it can OK for kids to watch, with the right precautions (we’ll get to this part later). We’ve gathered a few helpful opinions from thought leaders that might be helpful in you making a decision:
Getkidsinternetsafe.com is an online resource managed by Dr. Tracy Bennett, a mom, psychologist, and “screen safety expert who teaches families how to strengthen relationships AND achieve screen sanity.” Dr. Bennett advocates for the use of ASMR, and even authored an article encouraging the use of ASMR entitled “Young People Use ASMR for Stress Relief. You Should Too!“. As Dr. Bennett puts it, “there is no risk in trying.”
MetroParent.com is “an online parenting community offering expert advice . . . and numerous ways for parents to enrich their experience raising the next generation.” MetroParent.com explains that “medical experts and parents agree that getting kids to calm down is a daunting task. If you are at the point of letting your kids drift off to strangers soothing whispers, go for it – just be mindful.”
Parentinfo.org is a “website for parents, covering all of the issues amplified by the internet,” and has similarly expressed opinions on ASMR, cautioning that the “quiet speaking and close contact that are common in ASMR videos can come across as intimate or sensual – which can be problematic for young viewers.”
Should I let my kid watch ASMR?
Well, that one’s up to you. At the end of the day, you have to make an informed decision about what is best for your child. For some parents, the weirdness might be a deal-breaker. That fine. For other parents, they might recognize that they don’t need to like everything their child likes (we’re looking at you Fortnite). That’s fine too. There’s no right or wrong answer here.
If I let my kid watch ASMR, what precautions should I take?
Talk to Your Kid About Why They’re Watching ASMR Videos: Is it because of anxiety? Sleeping issues? Depression? There may be bigger issues that need to be addressed by you and/or professionals. You can also use this as a way to suggest solutions that you use in your own life. Exercise, therapy, meaningful relationships, and the like are all great starting points.
Get YouTube Kids: YouTube Kids provides a more contained environment for kids to explore YouTube and makes it easier for parents and caregivers to guide their journey. You can set controls, block channels, and do all sorts of things to ensure your kids are being safe on YouTube. Check it out here.
Find Age-Appropriate Content: For each kid, family, and parent, what is “appropriate” will be different. YouTube is a treasure trove of content, and with a little bit of time, you can find content that is just right for your kid. To get you started, you might check out WhispersRed Sleepy Children, ASMR content made specifically for children!
Learn About ASMR: If you want to learn more about ASMR before giving your kids the green light, that’s OK too. We’ve prepared a Beginners Guide to ASMR that you might find helpful.