As internet streaming websites become more popular among young children, the possibility of exposure to dangerous and mentally harmful content grows. The video streaming website, YouTube, has a designated site intended for kids to watch safe and age-appropriate material. The reliability of the site was tested by a variety of kid-friendly videos that had been infiltrated by mature content.
The platform, created in February 2015, was an effort by YouTube to create a platform where children can watch educational, musical, or comedic videos that are appropriate for their age group. On the site, parents can control the type of content their child watches by accessing the settings tab on their profile. However, YouTube Kids has received criticism from parents due to the inappropriate videos that exist on the supposedly “safe” website.
“The YouTube Kids app is meant to filter out unsuitable content, but we found that it suggested that children watch conspiracy videos,” stated James Cook of Business Insider News. The accessibility kids had to conspiracy videos concerned many parents who once trusted the site to provide their children with safe content.
The Momo Challenge, an incident that struck YouTube Kids, went viral because of its intention of mental and physical harm. “Momo,” the face of the challenge, is a photo of a sculpture made by a Japanese artist named Keisuke Aiso. The statue shows an ominous girl with bulging eyes and a haunting smile. Participation in The Momo Challenge includes agreeing to do activities that are self-harming and suicidal. The Momo Challenge was disguised on YouTube Kids as children’s shows and videos such as, Peppa Pig.
“Honestly, it’s really upsetting that kids my niece’s age [six years old] are exposed to things like The Momo Challenge,” Phoebe Bloomfield ’19 said in response to the mature content infiltrating YouTube Kids.
“Only a fraction of all inappropriate internet episodes are reported online to the authorities.”, according to Guard Child, a site educating parents on the awareness of internet safety,
The threat of other incidents similar to The Momo Challenge could be lurking among the content children are watching. The presence and growth of technology have no halt. As online entertainment becomes more prevalent among young kids, families have concern for their youth viewing mature content on a platform they once trusted to be safe.