There's no denying kids love YouTube.
With YouTube Kids pulling in around 35 million weekly viewers from over 80 countries across the globe it’s safe to say it’s one of the most popular ways for kids to spend time online.
From toy unboxings and gaming videos to cartoons and cute cats, YouTube has something for every child’s interests.
As with any online platform, things can sometimes go wrong, which is why we as parents to be vigilant about what our kids are watching, as well as make sure kids know what to do if something goes wrong.
Like most online platforms, things sometimes can and do go wrong on YouTube from time to time. Here are two examples of instances that had a direct impact on kids:
Peppa Pig. Back in 2018, knockoff cartoons featuring characters like Peppa Pig were doing the rounds on YouTube. These cartoons looked innocent enough but hidden within the videos were images of horror and acts of violence that left some kids traumatised.
These videos slipped past the Youtube Kids filters and while most of the offending videos have been removed, similar videos still pop up today disguised within Minecraft and Among Us content.
Elsagate. Similar to the Peppa Pig and Minecraft videos, Elsagate is the term given to videos featuring popular characters like Frozen’s Elsa in inappropriate and sometimes scary situations.
While watching these videos kids have been exposed much loved characters like Spider Man and Mickey Mouse in violent, scary and sexually inappropriate scenarios.
While the motive behind these videos is unclear, we do know is that kids are at a very real risk of coming across this kind of content online.
Is YouTube really safe for kids?
Given the above examples, it’s fair to ask if kids should be using YouTube at all.
YouTube does have its own child friendly offshoot called YouTube Kids which aims to give kids a safer experience online. This is done by using special filters, team members and parental feedback to weed out inappropriate content.
There are also parental controls like blocking certain videos and adjusting screen time usage, as well as an “Approved Content Only” mode where kids will only be able to watch the videos chosen and approved by a parent or guardian.
While all of this is definitely a step in the right direction, we do know filters aren’t always fool proof which why it’s important to know what your children are watching online.
How to keep kids safe on YouTube
There are a few things you can do to keep your child as safe as possible on the platform.
• Use YouTube Kids. While not perfect, YouTube kids is much safer and gives you control over your child’s screen time and the content they watch.
• Know what they’re watching. Have a look at the channels your child watches and get a feel for the kind of content they put out. If it’s something you don’t think is right for your child, you can step in.
• Take advantage of the Approved Content list. By adding videos you know are safe for your child, you can relax knowing they aren’t going to see anything they shouldn’t.
• Monitor their screen time. When kids are having recreational screentime, make sure it’s in a part of their house where you can keep eyes and ears on them.
• Encourage kids to tell you if they’ve seen something that upsets them. Let them know they’re not in trouble and ask them to show you the video. If it’s something you think shouldn’t be on YouTube or YouTube Kids, report the video and reach out to the YouTube support team.
YouTube is a great platform to have fun and learn new things.
Understanding the platform, understanding what your kids like to watch and taking advantage of parental settings, YouTube can be a safe, fun experience for kids and adults alike.