YouTube Kids Is Not As Kid Friendly As You Think

by Maria Guido

Your kids might be watching some seriously creepy videos onYouTube Kids

My son is obsessed with Blues Clues. When Steve skidoos into a picture frame, my child loses his shit. Last year, he took to searching YouTube Kids for as many videos he could find.

What you soon find out if you spend any time on YouTube Kids, is that there are thousands of people uploading some really strange “children’s” content. Everything exists, and this is also true in the world of YouTube kid videos. In the case of Blues Clues, there are hundreds of spoof videos that are… odd. Animated versions of the cartoon abound. As do a lot of reversed soundtracks.

Yeah, hearing this from the next room is a little disconcerting. I don’t know what watching reversed go-animate videos does to a child’s psyche, but I don’t want to have to think about that stuff. That’s why after a deep dive into all the strange Blues Clues spoofs that existed, I quickly disabled the search function on the app so these videos wouldn’t appear.

One mother recently wrote about a similar experience she’d had — only way more creepy. She handed her phone over to her daughter to watch Peppa Pig videos on YouTube Kids, and soon after heard some screaming from the next room. Not from her daughter, from a cartoon Peppa Pig who was having all her teeth bloodily extracted at the dentist.

“The video, titled “#Peppa #Pig #Dentist #Kids #Animation #Fantasy,” is completely horrifying,” she wrote for The Outline. “Though the animation sort of looks like an actual episode of Peppa Pig, it’s poorly done, and the narrative quickly veers into upsetting territory. Peppa goes to the dentist, who has a giant needle and a lot of scary tools.”

It turns out these spoof videos are very common, and some of the most popular YouTube channels engage in them. According to BBC,”Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs” is one of the top 100 most watched YouTube accounts in the world – its videos have more than 5 billion views. “Its landing page features a photo of a cute toddler alongside official-looking pictures of Peppa Pig, Thomas the Tank Engine, the Cookie Monster, Mickey and Minnie Mouse and Elsa from Frozen,” reports BBC. “But the videos on the channel have titles like “FROZEN ELSA HUGE SNOT”, “NAKED HULK LOSES HIS PANTS” and “BLOODY ELSA: Frozen Elsa’s Arm is Broken by Spiderman”. They feature animated violence and graphic toilet humour.”

And that is only one of many channels producing these videos.

Oh look! Here’s Doc McStuffins turning into a zombie. That won’t freak your kids out at all.

Disturbingly, the channel this one came from is verified by YouTube, and totally targeted to kids. It’s called Super Kids TV, and labels itself as “education videos and songs for super kids.”

Here is some more of their content:

What. The. Hell?

These YouTube channels are using recognizable characters and copyright infringement to boost their search performance on the site — and trick our kids into stumbling upon them. It’s working. The Doc McStuffins video, for example, has over two million views.

So what can you do to stop your kids from stumbling upon this content? Enable “restricted mode.” This will stop flagged videos from coming up in a search. But even more important, disable the search function on the app so your kids can’t simply search by keywords. These sites use keywords to land viewers on their pages.

Even better than that, download apps that don’t have an endless vat of unverified videos for your kids to stumble upon. The Nick Jr. app is amazing, and it’s free. The PBS Kids app is, too. If the point of occasionally giving your kids a screen is to get some much needed down time, pick an app that doesn’t force you to look over their shoulder when they’re using it.