As parents question the effects technology has on their children’s health and well-being, many are alarmed by the ton of reports coming out about malicious material on YouTube targeting kids as youngas two years old.
In recent months parents and psychotherapists have reported that perpetrators have manipulated content from renowned beloved children’s franchises, such as Entertainment One’s Peppa Pig, Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol and Disney’s Frozen and Mickey Mouse, and added inappropriate and disturbing content between popular characters.
According to medical experts, this content has a negative effect on the developing brain. What is worse, some of the content is filtering down into YouTube Kids, an program launched by Google in 2015 which has 11 million viewers and is supposed to contain only child-friendly content. These offending videos are just a portion of YouTube’s kid-friendly world, yet they’re another example of the possibility of misuse on digital platforms that rely on calculations to police content — and the newest in a series of reports that show the dark side of technology on young minds.
While the majority of the digital perpetrators are unknown, what is certain is their intent to do damage is deliberate, because it is fairly simple for a child to stumble upon these video clips. By way of instance, just five clicks to the popular”Dave and Ava — Nursery Rhymes and Baby Songs” at YouTube’s”Up Next” autofeed hints brings a chilling video featuring Nickelodeon’s PAW Patrol characters. (PAW Patrol is a much-loved animation for kids ages 2 to 5 about epic dogs with individual tasks.) The movie, like most in this class, appears fairly innocuous at the first couple of minutes but becomes progressively darker with time.
In a recent announcement, Disney and Nickelodeon have stated they’re looking into ways to prevent these videos from reaching young audiences. Google has also repeatedly apologized for these disturbing videos and admits more needs to be performed. Yet with 400 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every moment, vetting malicious material is proving hard. Recognizing the challenge in December, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki announced that the firm will employ more than 10,000 people to medium videos across its website and identify content that violates its policies.
Since YouTube was founded in 2005 by former PayPal colleagues Chad Hurley, Steve Chen and Jawed Karim (it had been snapped up by Google for $1.65 billion just a year and a half later), its prevalence among kids has surged. Now mental health specialists warn that YouTube is an increasing source of stress and inappropriate sexual behaviour among children under the age of 13, and parents and teachers will get involved.