Around the end of 2018 and in the wake of 2019, quite a number of disturbing and potentially alarming YouTube contents came to the limelight. The contents were mostly hidden in or at the end of kid’s videos with stronger and stranger examples with every video. This saw many unsuspecting parents leave their kids to watch ridiculous and dangerous lurking video leading to massive criticism of YouTube’s relationship with kids.
As a parent, caregiver, or guardian, this has become an interesting and important topic. Most likely, you have left your kids to watch something ‘interesting’ on YouTube without too much of a worry. Other parents have switched to YouTube Kids which focuses on contents specially tailored for children. However, do you know the dangers of YouTube for young children?
It’s not a crime for any parent who has made YouTube a friend of their children. It promises to offer more good than harm, and over time, it has become more of a playmate, babysitter, and television channel for kids. The only challenge comes in when rogue elements snake through YouTube’s rabbit holes and push violent, weird, and insane content to be watched by children.
So, how is YouTube affecting the safety of young children? The following are some of the notable ways in which your child may be in danger from consuming YouTube contents.
The most extreme and common challenge parents are dealing with is their kids’ exposure to sexually explicit content. The contents might be hidden between the usual play or education videos your children may be watching, and you might never know.
There is no parent that can leave their kids to walk down along some seedy city streets on their own. However, YouTube is such a seedy virtual street, and most of the young children are now walking the street alone. The street is full of informative and entertaining videos but along the way and in some dark corners, there exist some pretty explicit and scary videos.
At a young age of discovering new things, kids are getting exposed and introduced to sex in some of the most grotesque ways. As such, YouTube has become one of the scariest sources of sex education for kids which impacts negatively on them as they are tempted to try what they watch later by themselves.
The other huge and negative impact that faces YouTubing kids is how they are affected by the violent contents they watch on the site. Quite often, this happens, and parents won’t understand how or when it started. Also, most parents can be heard saying their kids fear to go to bed alone or that they can’t stay in a room by themselves.
Children nowadays watch all manner of videos and about all sorts of things. Apart from the videos having scary episodes, they might also contain adverts that may appear scary to the young viewers. Even when a parent tells their kid that what they watched is not real, in this case, it will be extra hard to convince them to believe their parents.
The main hurdle here is telling the kids that what they are watching is not real. It’s the hardest bit telling someone with half your brain that the action they are watching can and has been created by someone. With that though, the damage will have been done already.
When a child watches a game advert or any other video that depicts torture to humans, animals that they love, or other kids, trauma may come knocking. As discussed above, someone whose brain is not yet fully developed cannot tell the difference between what they watch online and reality. As such, they can never tell that the ‘purported torture’ is not real.
Even though the kid may go through therapy or counselling, there is a deeply-entrenched belief that what they watched had some truth in it. If the ‘torture’ that happened on their favourite video and had signs of blood, tears, or screaming, the child may never come to terms with it being fake. Therefore, the child may live with traumatizing nightmares and even live to fear anyone they associate with what they watched.
The other negative aspect that has of late been associated with YouTubing among young children is child abuse. There have been cases of videos designed by paedophiles who are out to hunt their preys using kids’ videos. These elements or individuals may use the most cunny methods and that are hard to suspect to lure kids even to meet or have them engage in sexual activities with them online.
Such videos may also be media for targeting kids for trafficking. There have also been scattered cases of children running into the hands of kidnappers who started with giving their contacts on the kids’ videos. In the end, the child may end falling for the tricks and call the numbers given only for them to end up as kidnap victims.
Early 2019 also saw kids’ videos exposed with some hidden segments that taught kids how to cause harm to themselves. Such videos would contain ‘tutorials’ on how a child can snap their necks, hit their heads against a surface, prick themselves with needles, cut themselves, or even take unprescribed medication. Such cases of an individual getting into the mind of a young unsuspecting child cannot be ignored whenever children are left with YouTube as the only caretaker.
The most intriguing effect of YouTube on young children is the rate at which they run into addiction out of watching endless episodes of kids’ videos. As parents have become busier, the only better way they think of helping them with their children is by having YouTube as a caregiver. In the wrong run, the child finds solace in videos and addiction slowly creeps in.
In recent years, there has been a proliferation of designer elements from tea and coffee mugs to t-shirts, cell phones, and infant onesies. Many of these examples have brainwashing elements like adverts that promote profanity branded on them. A good example is a t-shirt that was advertised as a snippet on a video (it led to Amazon) with the tag line “Keep Calm and Rape a Lot”.
Other adverts include phone cases that have medical equipment and drugs images. When young children are exposed to them, it’s not a doubt that they might want to explore more.
What to do When Your Kids are Exposed to Disturbing Content
With the onset of heavy internet usage, there is just too little that parents can do to keep their children from the internet. Whether you control its access at home or not, your child may have access to it from other platforms. They might have friends with computers in their bedrooms, and with that, you can never control what they watch online.
If you realize your child has been exposed to disturbing content and is behaving weird, you should take instant action. The first step is trying to control what they are accessing, when, and for how long. If there are disturbing channels or videos, you can block them or use parental control options.
Also, you can report contents you believe shouldn’t be online. YouTube takes strong steps when they realize contents are going against their policies and won’t hesitate to investigate and pull them down.
Lastly, take your child for therapy lessons. Seeing a counsellor has been proven to work for most people and as young humans, it may work for them too. In addition, you should ensure to take other precautionary measures before it gets to a worst-case scenario.
Without spoiling the brunch for parents, YouTube has elements that are out to spoil your kids and their future. However, there are still great videos (most of them) that the children can get immersed in without a worry. There also exists YouTube Kids which is highly moderated to ensure it gives, as much as possible, content designed for children.
Also, there are channels with bodies of wonderful characters, inspiring stories, entertaining animated content, and educational materials. There are also contents meant to spread messages of love, peace, and understanding and can really impact on the children’s lives if they are not targeted by the rogue elements using the rabbit holes YouTube hasn’t been able to manage so far.