Recently I read an essay titled “Something Is Wrong On The Internet” by James Brindle, about the disturbing videos that people make on YouTube for children to watch.
There is an app called YouTube Kids that many parents download so that they can quickly find videos that are supposedly safe for their kids to watch. Many of the videos are fine to watch, but there are countless others that contain disturbing, and possibly harmful content.
Parents just hand their children a device and choose a popular character for them to watch, like TV show character Peppa Pig and expect it to be fine, but it could turn out to be incredibly violent. Even if it is really just a regular video, the computer will play another video for you right after that, which is chosen using keywords in the description. There are some particular keywords that have gained popularity, like “finger family”, “bad baby”, “surprise egg”, and “wrong heads”. Many of the videos that are out there “made for kids”, are a mash-up of popular children’s characters and the keywords, creating videos that are on the spectrum of “slightly off”, to “horrific”. I watched many of the videos myself, and was very disturbed by them.
Most are very poorly made, adding to the weird factor. The bad animation and the sound playing in the background are really creeped me out.
If the videos that are just an odd combination of pirated animated characters singing songs or switching heads didn’t already give you nightmares, the more intense ones will. One channel called Toy Freaks (which, after the essay was written, along with other articles, was removed from YouTube as well as many other channels containing alarming content.) featured a dad and his daughters acting out, and probably originating, much of the same content. A lot of the videos had the daughters dressed up as babies. Sometimes they even had his daughters vomiting, or in pain, which many (including myself) considered to be child abuse. Other channels have videos of have characters like The Joker and clowns burying Elsa and Spiderman alive and dancing around their heads. Even others have Peppa Pig going to the dentist and being basically tortured, while an unsettling loop of a baby crying plays. Videos like these are incredibly violent and would make any child confused and scared.
I think that the root of the problem is the increasing popularity of YouTube among little kids. Parents that want their kids to be quiet know that they can just hand them an iPad and they will be happy. What the parents don’t know, is that what they are actually watching is scary and damaging their impressionable young minds. People have found a way to get millions of views by essentially preying off these kids that are tricked into clicking on characters they know, only to find themselves watching the stuff of nightmares. YouTube has started taking down videos and channels that contain content like this, but they’ll never be able to take down every single one of them, and new ones are being made all the time. I think that all parents should be made aware of what they are subjecting their children to when they have them watch Kid’s YouTube. I’m not sure whether YouTube has a screening process for before a video is published, but if they don’t now, I think they should, or at least have one for YouTube Kids. Before YouTube is completely safe for young kids, I would not let them watch YouTube. If it is too hard to tear them away from the screen, parents should at least watch with them to make sure they are not watching anything that you wouldn’t want them to.
Here’s a link to the essay if you want to know more:https://medium.com/@jamesbridle/something-is-wrong-on-the-internet-c39c471271d2