YouTube can be a fantastic site for kids to learn, but it’s also where parents must monitor what their children watch. While there is a Kids version, YouTube Kids can still have problematic videos.
If you’re unfamiliar with YouTube history, Elsagate was a phenomenon (see here) where content creators were using child-friendly characters (the name comes from Elsa, the main character from Disney’s Frozen) and putting them in violent or even sexual situations. What seems like an innocent video can become a nightmare for your child if you are not careful.
While YouTube has cracked down on these videos since then, many still seep through the cracks. It feels like every other year, there’s a major scandal with what kids are watching.
How Can These Videos Have a Negative Impact on Children?
Kids being raised on YouTube is still a relatively new phenomenon. While YouTube launched in 2005, the Kids version wasn’t until 2015. As a result, the actual implications are still unclear, but research is coming out.
If your child watches distressing content on YouTube, it can lead to high anxiety, says CNBC. There are videos labeled for kids showing their favorite characters being brutally killed, tortured, or even in sexual situations. Children who watch these videos may experience sleepless nights or display inappropriate sexual behavior. Many channels are buying subs on YouTube (see videosgrow.com) and uploading inappropriate videos labeled for kids, and it can make them feel worse.
The last thing you want is for your 5-year-old to start repeating things they shouldn’t know about for many years! Also, if the videos are violent, it could lead to more aggression in young children.
Don’t Throw the Baby Out With the Bathwater
It should be mentioned that while these videos are on the platform, they are a small minority. Chances are, your child will experience appropriate content. YouTube’s algorithm can be an excellent way for children to go down a learning journey.
That said, you must be vigilant about what your child consumes. Here’s how you can monitor what your kids watch.
Use YouTube’s Built-In Parental Controls
As you expect, YouTube has addressed these issues and given parents many ways to monitor what their kids watch. They have a series of parental controls you can select from whenever you download YouTube for your child and set them up a Google Account.
Family Link lets you control your child’s account through your app. With it, you can block certain content or choose the content level. As your child grows, the content they can watch may change, too. For instance, what your child likes at seven is far different than what they liked at four.
You can also approve content for your child to watch. We’d recommend glossing over a video to see if it contains anything objectionable. Another thing you can do is see your child’s watch history. You can then make sure they have not watched anything inappropriate.
YouTube also lets you control autoplay. You may want to turn it off, as sometimes, the age-appropriate video they watch may change into something less appropriate. Another benefit is selecting videos you approve of and then showing them to your child.
Parenting can be a hassle, but it’s vital that you just don’t put your child in front of the TV or tablet and expect the algorithm to raise them. Take control of what your kids watch, approve or disapprove of videos, and you don’t have to worry about your kid running into something bad for them.
Consider Using a Third-Party Parental Control App
You can use Google, which has many parental controls, all for free. However, you may want a parental control app that has more features. For instance, see what apps your child uses, receive real-time screenshots, and limit screen time.
Parental control apps are the perfect way to do this. They cost a little bit of monthly money, but they have many extra features to keep your kids safe.
Limit Screen Time
Another thing that you should do is to limit screen time altogether. Too much screen time can lead to sleeplessness, and your child should use some time to go outside and do something productive. Generally, it’s recommended that children under two years have little to no screen time, children 2-5 have an hour a day, and older children and adolescents have at least two hours. Technology is excellent, but only in moderation. If your child is too online, it may be worth taking a step back and letting them do something else.
Wait Until They’re Older
While YouTube Kids is a great app, and they’ve been increasingly cracking down on problematic content, it’s still the Wild West there in some regards. No matter what you do, your child may run into a video that traumatizes them for life.
That’s why you should wait until they’re older before they watch YouTube. In the meantime, turn on a streaming service like Netflix or Disney Plus, which has a more curated list of shows your kids can watch. At the end of the day, the issue with YouTube is that anyone can upload these videos. Not only can someone slip bad messaging into a video, but these videos are often low-quality, with poor animation and voice acting. This isn’t to say that there isn’t quality content on YouTube as well, but other streaming services can curate it better. Why not let your kid watch something more imaginative?
YouTube is a great platform, but it can be challenging to raise your kids on it. You can better monitor what your kids are watching by using YouTube’s parental controls or parental control apps outside of YouTube. If you still have issues, wait until your kids are older before they enter the world of YouTube. We hope this article was helpful to you.
Last Updated: November 29, 2023