The Bad

The Bad!

The Bad

What We Don’t Like

“Fake” Kid-friendly content on YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids is a great app for parents because it hold the promise that your kids can finally explore YouTube safely.

As a parent, it’s hard not to notice that YouTube is an exciting place for kids. Many of their schoolmates’ heros are YouTube stars, adding youthful glamour to what is an old platform. Just as for adults, YouTube is a great resource for DIY - whether it’s cookery, fixing toys or (my least favourite): ‘How to make SLIME!’

However, it’s also filled with some of the worst content out there. A primary school teacher told me recently how she came into her classroom once to find 5 boys in watching a graphic video of an ISIS beheading.

So, how to resolve this conundrum? Banning YouTube seems harsh to children, whereas allowing unfettered access is dangerous.

Enter YouTube Kids! A supposedly protected area where children can enjoy the benefits of the video service without the risk.

However, after a recent Medium article by James Bridle, there have been a number of articles about the problem of exposing children to bad stuff within an area that is marketed specifically as kid-safe.

Something is wrong on the internet - James Bridle - Medium

I'm James Bridle . I'm a writer and artist concerned with technology and culture. I usually write on my own blog, but frankly I don't want what I'm talking about here anywhere near my own site. Please be advised: this essay describes disturbing things and links to disturbing graphic and video content.

Final Points

It’s good to limit kids’ screen time, and to monitor younger children as much as possible. Having said that, I understand why parents need an area they can direct kids to while they get on with other things. A few points:

  1. There are alternatives to YouTube Kids, many of them using YouTube content but within a walled-garden of safe, curated content
  2. It’s worth noting that YouTube Kids is still safer than YouTube.com!
  3. Perhaps it’s best to steer kids away from this site altogether. YouTube has other risks as well as content. For example, your child posts a video for their friends of an exercise routine and it suddenly attracts gross comments from predators. Plus, maybe we can steer our kids away from idolising YouTube stars and toward more healthy expressions of creativity. To paraphrase an English TV show I used to watch as a kid: “Why don’t you just switch off YouTube and go and do something less boring instead?”

The legal situation in the US regarding online trafficking particularly minors:

A Medium article by Anastasia Basil about Musica.ly - careful what apps you let your younger children explore!:

Porn Is Not the Worst Thing on Musical.ly - Anastasia Basil - Medium

My daughter is ten. She wants me to download the Musical.ly app on my phone so she can make funny lip-sync videos. Everyone has it, she whines, even the kid whose mom is an FBI agent/social worker/pediatrician/nun. Wow. Well. In that case...