When people say you can find anything on YouTube, they are not joking. With 400 hours of video uploaded every minute, this platform is a representation of the evolution that came with the Internet. After Google and Facebook, YouTube is the third most visited website. But is it completely harmless? Or is there a hazardous and perhaps toxic side of YouTube which children are not aware of?
Anyone with an Internet connection can access YouTube. Including children. Online video streaming is slowly replacing traditional TV viewing. We don’t even have to worry about TV content in terms of cartoons… because they are on YouTube now.
The Bloody Side Of YouTube
If you haven’t seen it, at least you must have heard of Happy Tree Friends . This is a series about cartoon animal characters constantly finding themselves in events of violence, bloodshed, pain and even death. Even though it is an adult series, it is still a cartoon. Therefore, it is likely to attract the attention of children. I myself encountered it around 6 years ago. However, I realised its target audience is adults just a month ago.
Out there, there may be adults with a fetish for watching cartoon characters unintentionally killing each other and themselves. There should be a special web place for them, which requires age confirmation and creating an account for the purpose. Because it is hard to save children from their curiosity. Cases of inappropriate cartoon content have been repeatedly reported by furious and concerned parents, and only then were they deleted from the platform.
Mommy, Mickey Mouse Scares Me!
One can find many upsetting and disturbing YouTube videos featuring kids’ favourite cartoon characters. Nickelodeon’s Paw Patrol (“PAW Patrol Babies Pretend to Die Suicide by Annabelle Hypnotized”) , or Disney’s Mickey Mouse, Peppa Pig. These are usually fake versions containing a lot of violence. And even if YouTube is already taking measures and actions, constantly reviewing flagged videos and deleting channels and content, these videos do get uploaded and the chance of kids seeing them before taken down is just too big. In 2015 YouTube launched its Kids App, whose aim is to filter disturbing content. Unfortunately, it does not recognise all of those videos.
From medical point of view, it is nowhere near good news. As medical experts suggest, when children experience fear and stress, certain parts of their brain end up being underdeveloped. Seeing the Peppa Pig they know covered in blood, kids most certainly do experience a lot of stress.
At some point of our childhood we have all questioned where babies come from. So I decided to type ‘what is sex’ on YouTube’s search. What amazed me was how instructional and educational, detailed, specific and ‘depictive’ the videos were. I ran into well-known YouTubers creating content which gives kids ‘the sex talk’ on behalf of their parents. There were also instructions on how to sexually arouse a woman, advice on the best positions, and so on. There were some quite “naughty videos” as well.
There are different opinions on the effects of disturbing content on children. Some say there is none. Some say being exposed to aggression, kids start practicing aggression. Associations, such as The American Academy of Paediatrics, have been warning parents to limit screen time for their children. But this is no guarantee that kids won’t sneakily go on YouTube, either on their own or with other just as curious friends, and enjoy the limitless content there is. Even the option of ‘flagging’ videos is not a solution. Individual cases are reported to YouTube, and only then they get deleted. What about the rest of them? In the end of the day, parents cannot have control ALL the time.
Even when we were children, there was always some likelihood of exposure to inappropriate content. This was because of television. We didn’t have YouTube, neither were we provided with as diverse choices as kids today are. Danger becomes real as soon as the kid receives a technological device as a babysitter. Perhaps the problem is much more deep-rooted than just the Internet and its influence…
If you missed my last blog post, now is the time to catch up.