Millions of people of all ages use the internet daily whether it be through a computer, tablet, or phone. A plentiful proportion of those users are young children on gaming sites and video sites such as Youtube.
The internet is not regulated and with children being so tech-savvy nowadays it is hard to know what exactly they are getting themselves into. Parents do not want to have to regulate their child's every move, so Youtube came up with an apparent solution. Youtube Kids was launched on February 23, 2015 with the concept of having a safe place for kids to explore and watch videos.
Parents have the ability to customize their child’s experience with a screen timer, sound setting and search settings. Youtube Kids also knows how important feedback is so they have included a space for parents to leave their comments and concerns.
Youtube writes on their blog, “For years, families have come to YouTube, watching countless hours of videos on all kinds of topics. Now, parents can rest a little easier knowing that videos in the YouTube Kids app are narrowed down to content appropriate for kids.”
The problem with this statement is that the app has not actually narrowed down the content to make it appropriate for kids. While Youtube Kids have tried, hence the word tried, to narrow down the content to make it kid friendly, they have not done good enough.
Youtube Kids has been facing backlash for years over the safety of the app. The Youtube Kids videos may seem like kid friendly videos at a quick glance but upon further inspection they contain disturbing content. Inappropriate videos of well known Disney and Nickelodeon characters in lewd positions or committing suicide are some of the videos that slip through the algorithm.
The New York Times wrote, “Many have taken to Facebook to warn others, and share video screenshots showing moments ranging from a Claymation Spider-Man urinating on Elsa of “Frozen” to Nick Jr. characters in a strip club.”
"Young children are often frightened by sudden changes and transformations, and so may be particularly upset when characters they know and trust are portrayed in disturbing situations," Matthew Johnson, director of education for MediaSmarts, a Canadian non-profit organization that focuses on media literacy programs told CBC.ca.
These videos are teaching children subjects that are far past their age and could emotionally affect kids in the long run. There are always going to be horrible people out there that do disgusting and disturbing things and it is everyone’s job to protect the children of this world.
Pedophiles have been known to use the comment section of Youtube Kids. They will timestamp a specific moment a child could seem to be in a suggestive pose even though to the average person it just looks like a kid playing with their toys. Pedophiles will also connect with each other through the comments and will even post links to pornographic videos.
Pedophiles invading a supposedly kid friendly site is any parents worst nightmare. Parents do have the ability to flag videos on Youtube Kids they find inappropriate but the problem with that is most children are watching it unsupervised.
The lack of parental supervision is not Youtube’s fault. Youtube has recently disabled the ability to comment on videos featuring young minors and even older minors “that could be at risk of attracting predatory behavior” according to Youtube’s blog.
Youtube has taken a step in the right direction with disabling the comments but that alone is not enough. Youtube needs actual humans to watch the videos that are uploaded from unfamiliar channels claiming to be for kids. Along with Youtube cracking down on channels parents need to step up. If parents are going to let their children use technology unsupervised they need to consider the risks involved. The internet is not meant for children and never was so parents need to be more vigilant if they want to protect their child’s innocence.