YouTube and Small Kids

YouTube and Small Kids

15 March 2019

Is it safe to leave your toddler in front of YouTube Kids while making dinner?

Nope, definitely not. Parents who allow their kids to watch YouTube Kids unattended might want to pay closer attention to what they are viewing.

YouTube Kids garners more than 11 million weekly viewers. It’s popular alright, and yes, there is a wealth of excellent family friendly content. From fun tips and tricks about school to educational channels, music and creative pursuits.

With its whimsical visuals, silly sound effects and picture based navigation, YouTube Kids is fun and friendly – and doesn’t look at all like its parent site. Kids can roam through a vast menu of YouTube videos specifically geared for their age group. So, “Winnie the Pooh” and “Thomas and Friends”… what could go wrong?

Well, turns out, plenty! A Florida mom was horrified when she found a clip on YouTube Kids that gave kids instructions on how to kill themselves. Yep, this particular mom and her son were watching cartoon videos on YouTube Kids when boom, spliced in the middle of one of the videos was footage of a man in sunglasses telling kids how to slit their wrists.

How does this happen? Remember mom and dad, YouTube Kids relies on algorithms and is not personally created by YouTube employees; it’s not foolproof. YouTube Kids may be designed for kids, but it’s not a guaranteed refuge from inappropriate videos. Your child could be watching Peppa Pig drink bleach or see Spiderman urinating on Elsa from Frozen. (All of these have actually slipped through Google’s filters!)

The app store indicates that YouTube Kids is appropriate for kids from ages 4 and older, but Common Sense Media recommends it for kids 7 and older. Why? Well, they reckon that with the potential for inappropriate videos slipping through the cracks, it might be wise to wait a few years until kids are slightly more mature.

YouTube has posted an update on its blog which addresses some of these concerns and explains new features which could help to protect our kids from inappropriate videos. Sure, there are multiple features which parents can use to protect their kids and to make YouTube less of a minefield for a young viewer. Take advantage of the parental control option – you could turn on YouTube’s “Restricted Mode”, subscribe to “Favourites” and turn off “Auto Play”. But, remember, none of these tips are foolproof and nothing can replace a parent’s genuine interest and watchful eye. Fact is, the best way to identify what your child is watching, is to watch with him.

According to a 2018 Healthy Active Kids South Africa report from the University of Cape Town, kids younger than 18 months should have absolutely no screen time (other than video chatting), while kids from ages 2 to 5 years should be limited to one hour per day and school-going kids should be restricted to two hours per day.

Of course, there’s always the option of turning off the screens and going outside to play. That could work too.


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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