Attention Parents: Disturbing Videos are Slipping Past Filters on YouTube Kids

youtube kids

RachelKiser_200TallRachel Kiser
Blogger | Mom of Two

 

If you’re a parent, unless you’ve been living under a rock (or in a mythical land of absolutely no screen-time whatsoever), you’ve probably been exposed to the world of YouTube kids. Unboxing videos (where kids record themselves unwrapping new toys and playing with them), nursery rhyme variations, and biographical-type videos that follow kids and their families are becoming all the rage among young viewers.

As parents become more comfortable with giving their children control over their personal electronic devices, they are leaving their children more or less unsupervised with the material. I, like so many other parents, formerly had a certain amount of trust for an app that is catered towards toddler and preschool-aged children. You can control how long they spend on it and even block certain accounts. Makes it feel safe, right?

Wrong. Unfortunately, there are a growing number of individuals (and even entire companies) who are taking it upon themselves to create scary, lewd, and downright inappropriate content that slips past the filters that YouTube has in place.

Staci Burns of Indiana learned this the hard way. She was cooking dinner while her three-year-old son, Isaac, was watching the app on the family’s iPad. All of a sudden he cried out, “Mommy, the monsters scare me!”

When Staci walked over, she saw Isaac was watching a video where characters closely representing the Paw Patrol crew drove their car into a light post, screaming, then burst into flames. The name of the video? “PAW Patrol Babies Pretend to Die Suicide”. In the video, the beloved Nickelodeon characters die in various ways, including being hypnotized by a demon-possessed doll and walking off a cliff.

Seriously.

“My initial response was anger,” said Ms. Burns, a nurse, who credits the app with helping Isaac to learn colors and letters before other boys his age. “My poor little innocent boy, he’s the sweetest thing, and then there are these horrible, horrible, evil people out there that just get their kicks off of making stuff like this to torment children.”

youtube kids

Videos of Spiderman flatulating into Queen Elsa’s mouth, Peppa Pig drinking bleach, videos of cartoon characters being tortured at the dentist, there is no end to the awful things people have created for the sole purpose of making money and scaring small children. And parents are livid.

So how exactly is this happening? According to a post on Medium by writer James Bridle, “The architecture [that YouTube and Google] built to extract the maximum revenue from online video is being hacked by persons unknown to abuse children.” So, for money. People are creating elaborate scams to lure children into watching their videos with keywords like “educational” and the names of popular, beloved characters so that they can make money.

So what will be done about these heinous videos? There are thousands of them, and many of them that we were able to find just by perusing the app for a little while are still unflagged.

“Earlier this year, we updated our policies to make content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters ineligible for monetization,” said Juniper Downs, YouTube director of policy, in a statement. “The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right.”

Let’s hope they do.

Our take? Be vigilant. If you still desire for your children to have access to this app, don’t allow them to use it unless you are close by and capable of monitoring what they’re taking in. Cast the video stream to a television so it’s easily visible. Have conversations with your older kids about appropriate content and peruse their history often. Hopefully in the meantime the bugs will be worked out and parents can trust the filters once again.

 


 

RachelKiser_200TallAbout Rachel Kiser

Rachel is a wife and mother living in Raleigh, North Carolina. She’s a fan of good coffee, wearer of gray t-shirts, and is constantly starting books she will never finish. Her family is her joy, and she loves to engage with other moms and dads on matters of parenting. Her blog posts have also been featured on the Today Show Parenting Blog and Scary Mommy.

View all posts by Rachel Kiser here.

12 Comments on “Attention Parents: Disturbing Videos are Slipping Past Filters on YouTube Kids”

  1. I use to let my daughter watch youtube videos , I never thought those videos of cartoons she was watching were like this until I saw a post on facebook about it. I thought wow thats crazy and started paying more attention to the videos she watched and sure enough , she was watching a video of minnie and mickey that showed inappropriate stuff. Its so crazy how it goes unnoticed, I always heard the music/sound of the videos while she watched .. it sounded like regular cartoons so thats why I never thought she could be watching something she wasn’t supposed to.

  2. My daughter only uses YouTube when I am with her. If she wants to watch a show I let her use Disney or Nick app. When she was little I clicked on a kids video on YouTube for her and it was no joke rated X after that never again.

    1. Very good idea to stick to the apps where the shows actually air to make sure your kids are watching appropriate content. Thank you for sharing!

  3. Its disturbing that people have to take cartoons and things children love and either make it violent or perverted.My 4 year old grandaughter love to watch things on utube but I have to really check it out before I can let her watch it!Ii dont know what has happened to our society.Its scarey!

  4. They should be removing these videos, not just making it not for monetization! I have taken YouTube access off their tablet and everything is being monitored now! Really crazy what people!

  5. This has happened to my child too and they need to do something about these videos that they use characters out children love to teach them bad behavior or scare them it’s sick.

    1. We are hoping for more strict regulations put on these types of platforms some time soon!

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