There is a darker side to YouTube and here are the reasons to be cautious.
Children are online now more than ever before and incredibly, more videos are now watched online on a daily basis than traditional television. 500 hours of video are uploaded to youTube per minute, and YouTube now has over 2 billion users worldwide. YouTube is a wonderful source of information, self-directed learning, a platform to share creativity, and uploaded videos that are targeted at kids are for most part suitable. There is however a potentially darker side to YouTube and good reasons to be cautious.
Thousands of videos uploaded onto YouTube are not as child friendly as they seem and more and more videos are being watched by kids that are not appropriate. Shockingly, these videos are often those of famous cartoons and children are unwittingly clicking on videos with no guarantee it is suitable for them. It's far from an isolated case: BBC Trending has found hundreds of similar videos of children's cartoon characters with inappropriate themes. In addition to Peppa Pig, there are videos featuring characters from the Disney movie Frozen, the Minions franchise, Doc McStuffins, Thomas the Tank Engine, and many more.
So parents, take more care when it comes to allowing your children to watch YouTube. It's perfectly genuine for a parent to believe that something called Peppa Pig is going to be Peppa Pig. Many parents have come to trust YouTube as a way of entertaining their child for ten minutes while making a phone call or having lunch etc. It is understandable that parents will not notice that the cartoon their child is watching is riddled with unsuitable material. Most parents are busy and leaving their children alone to view YouTube is the norm in a lot of households around the country.
What Can You Do As Parents To Avoid This Problem?
- Well, supervision would be a start. The problem with online activities is that most kids are watching videos alone with no one around to supervise them. Potentially kids could be watching many unsuitable videos and parents may not become aware until it is too late.
- Give kids a pre-checked playlist that is ok for them view. Remember the age limits are there for safety and YouTube advises that users are at least 13 years old, although a lot of younger children are using it. If your youngster is using it, at least having approved playlists will help prevent them coming across nasty content: these can be easily created on your account.
- Set up a family account and put ‘Restricted’ mode on your YouTube giving you a greater control over what your child watches. Young kids will not mind as most just want to watch videos they love and children are unaware of the dangers. This will also mean that the videos YouTube recommends will be based on family viewing and not the videos that you are also watching as an adult (if you are letting children watch on your own YouTube account). Turn off ‘Autoplay’ for increased control, so your child will tell you when the video has finished and you can choose the next one together.
- Having the tablet or computer in full view is key: don’t allow kids to sit alone in their room for hours watching. Too much of anything isn’t good for your youngster’s health so bear that in mind, as well as considering that the chances of them unsuitable videos slipping through the net increases with time watched. Don’t encourage the use of headphones (as annoying as that might be!) so you will hear it any time inappropriate content does slip through the net.
- Consider using the YouTubeKids app or the new YouTubeKids.com website where you can filter and control the content your children watch by age range.
This content has been checked and certified by Cyber Safe Ireland whose mission is to empower children, parents and teachers to navigate the online world in a stronger, smarter and safer way.