The Scary Thing You Don’t Know About YouTube Kids
The company is making important changes to the app.
If you have a toddler, you know what a sanity-saver YouTube Kids can be when you’re stuck in traffic or simply need a couple of minutes of quiet to make a phone call. On the app, your child can scroll through a list of age-appropriate videos starring Thomas the Tank Engine, Elmo, Barbie, and others kiddie characters, or search for his or her own favorites without accidentally clicking on adult content.
But as some families have found out recently, several very inappropriate videos have found a way to sneak past the filters. These include bizarre homemade videos of beloved characters like Peppa Pig in violent, frightening, or suggestive situations (one video shows the pink pig at a truly terrifying trip to the dentist). These crudely drawn cartoons look enough like the real thing to trick preschoolers into watching them.
Now YouTube is taking important steps in identifying and blocking these horrific videos to protect the site’s tiniest, most vulnerable viewers. “We’re in the process of implementing a new policy that age-restricts this content in the YouTube main app when flagged,” Juniper Downs, YouTube’s director of policy, told The Verge. “Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids.”
If you see a video that’s clearly not meant for children, you can block it from your child and report it to YouTube by selecting the three vertical black dots in the upper right corner of the screen. Once a video is flagged, it gets forwarded to what the site says is a team of “thousands of people working around the clock” to review the content. If it is deemed inappropriate, it will stay on YouTube’s main channel but be labeled as age-restricted, which means it will be blocked from ever showing up on the YouTube Kids app. YouTube also has a team of volunteers who are constantly on the lookout for content that should be kept away from kids.
This new policy follows an announcement last August that any video featuring family entertainment characters engaged in “violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior” would be barred from carrying advertising—taking away the financial incentive to post these videos.
While the overwhelming majority of videos on YouTube Kids are perfectly safe and appropriate for your three-year-old to watch, it’s a good reminder that you should always keep one eye on whatever your kid is watching.