If you’re a parent and you let your children watch videos unsupervised, you may be making the biggest mistake of your kids’ lives. Today’s moms and dads have it tough at times. They have so many things going on that they often rely on tablets and smartphones to keep their kids occupied. Most of the time they don’t worry, because they’ve checked to see what their loved ones are watching. It’s usually YouTube videos featuring Dora the Explorer, “professional” Minecrafters, paid “unboxers”, or other types of kid-centric content. But other times it’s worse.
Letting a device babysit kids isn’t a new thing. In the “old days”—before mobile devices—parents would set their kids up in front of the television (aka the boob-tube). Experts and critics always advised against that behavior. However, parents did it anyway—and still do. But it’s worse today. While the television was filled with content that was sometimes inappropriate for kids, it wasn’t as R-rated (or worse) and as vast as the Internet.
YouTube Kids’ Videos—A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing
YouTube has begun to clamp down on content creators who are slipping by their filters with alarmingly inappropriate material targeted toward children. Videos showing family-friendly characters in violent and/or sexual situations have started to pop up all over their site—and not many parents have noticed.
The problem is that moms and dads let their kids sit and watch videos they think are perfectly fine. Their little ones may start out with a clip on a channel that parents know are fine because they checked it. But what they don’t realize is that their kids click on the next video, and the next, and the next…. Somewhere along the line, a clip with questionable content comes up and their child watches.
YouTube, which relies on algorithms and teams of human content reviewers, realized they weren’t doing enough. Now, according to the Juniper Downs, the site’s director of policy, the popular site is “in the process of implementing a new policy that age restricts this content in the YouTube main app when flagged. Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids.” That’s good news for many parents.
What You Can Do to Protect Your Kids from Inappropriate Content
We live in a pretty messed-up world filled with hackers, robocallers, and catch a cheater apps. YouTube can’t be fully blamed for adding to the dangers of the digital world. It’s up to parents to monitor their children more vigilantly than ever before. To do so, follow these simple rules:
- Have them follow only trusted YouTube channels
- Set up and update parental controls for their video programs and apps
- Watch and listen to what your kids are viewing
- Let them use their electronic devices only in an area where you can see them