Parents, YouTube Kids App May Not Be As Safe As You Think
As if we didn't feel enough parental guilt already about letting our children watch the YouTube Kids app when we need to get stuff done or take a moments rest, but after reading this I am literally sick to my stomach.
In my house, YouTube Kids is called "Barbies" because my 5-year-old loves to watch people play with Barbies, horse and My Little Pony figurines. I can admit that at times we let her watch it for too long in one span, and now I'm wondering how to remove it totally without enduring an epic meltdown.
Maybe completely revoking her ability to watch it seems a bit drastic, but I'm betting you won't think so after reading this trending article from The Washington Post.
The headline reads; "YouTube and YouTube Kids videos are hiding suicide tips for children"
Sadly, stories like this are popping up more often these days, but one pediatrician is making it her mission to get them removed from existence.
The Washington Post reports;
Free Hess, a pediatrician and mother, had learned about the chilling videos over the summer when another mom spotted one on YouTube Kids.
She said that minutes into the clip from a children’s video game, a man appeared on the screen – giving instructions on how to commit suicide.
“I was shocked,” Hess said, noting that since then, the scene has been spliced into several more videos from the popular Nintendo game “Splatoon” on YouTube and YouTube Kids, a video app for children. Hess, from Ocala, Florida, has been blogging about the altered videos and working to get them taken down amid an outcry from parents and child health experts, who say such visuals can be damaging to children.
So, you're probably thinking with all the parental controls and flagging technology that YouTube, especially the YouTube Kids app, uses to keep these types of videos away from our children, how is this stuff still leaking through?!?!
Andrea Faville, a spokeswoman for YouTube, told The Washington Post;
We rely on both user flagging and smart detection technology to flag this content for our reviewers. Every quarter we remove millions of videos and channels that violate our policies and we remove the majority of these videos before they have any views. We are always working to improve our systems and to remove violative content more quickly, which is why we report our progress in a quarterly report (transparencyreport.google.com) and give users a dashboard showing the status of videos they’ve flagged to us.”
The facts are, technology isn't perfect and consequences for these sick people who are targeting children on the internet is not steep enough.
What do we do to prevent the devastating effects messages like this can have on our children? I just don't have the heart to completely take away something my daughter enjoys, so I guess I will have to sit and watch the videos with her, because that is the only "parental control" I feel confident in right now.