No More YouTube Kids!

YouTube has a large variety of content.  The intended audiences range from children to adults and has everything from user-made videos to feature-length movies.  That was probably not necessary to describe since it’s not 2005 anymore, but I thought I would start off with that anyway.  So given the vast universe that is YouTube, allowing a child to roam through it freely is very unwise.  Sure you can select a video featuring nursery rhymes, but more than likely the child will end up finding his or her way onto something far from nursery rhymes.  Don’t be surprised if you walk away and come back to find your kid listening to Tupac or watching a trailer for some gory horror movie.

YouTube recognized this dilemma and decided, “Hey team, kids are a big market and parents are making demands, let’s create a kids only version of YouTube”.  Everyone replies, “Great idea Bob! “.  There’s aBob at every meeting by the way, in case you were wondering.  Then came YouTube Kids.  Before I had a child, my sister would use the app for her kids.  Fast forward a couple years and now I have a child who eventually stumbled upon technology and now craves some one-on-one time with the tab.  Go figure.

I thought YouTube Kids was a great idea.  Take all of the quality (and some of that not so quality) content from YouTube, filter it to remove adult content and Volià, quality videos for all kids to enjoy!  It worked for a short time, selecting videos for my son, letting him watch videos I or my wife decided were safe.  Then my son started with the tappity-tap, watch a million video in 30 seconds and it was all down hill from there.  He was watching some weird, violent and/or disturbing videos that I never expected to see on a kids video app!  Nothing bloody or pornographic, but still things I didn’t want my 2 year old to watch.

I removed YouTube and YouTube Kids

I decided it was best to remove the apps.  I suppose you are wondering what videos pushed me and my wife away.  After browsing the YouTube Kids app myself, there were a lot of not so nice videos.  Here are a few examples:

  1. Kids aged between 5 and 10 kicking and slapping each other
  2. Weird middle-aged guy playing with candy (I imagine he filmed from his van 🚌)
  3. Adult telling the camera (kid watching) to do bad things and not tell his or her parents

The list goes on.  I may even go back, find the videos and embed them, but let’s save that for another post.

The real issues at hand

There are many things wrong with the situation:

  1. The first and most obvious issue is on behalf of my wife and I.  If we really wanted to protect our child from bad behavior, we probably should keep him off of the tab until he better understands good and bad behavior.  Well… Sometimes mommy and daddy need to relax. 😀
  2. The second issue is with the videos themselves.  Why are parents allowing their kids to make videos and post them on the internet?  Why are adult men trying to lure the attention of children (especially when they act less like Mr. Rodgers and more like Pennywise the clown 🎈)?  That’s their decision and I’m no saint, so I am better off just ignoring their videos than to try protesting their behavior.
  3. The third and most important issue however is on YouTube’s behalf.  Why are they not filtering their content better?  If they could group things by age (maybe they do?) and keep creepy or mean videos off the platform, it would be a lot better.  That would take tons of man hours though, so I have a better suggestion.

The Solution

The intentions of YouTube are (hopefully) pure.  The execution however, is not.  There are many ways to fix this, but the simplest way would be to let the parents choose the videos and do not allow the child(ren) to tap around.  If I could make a playlist of approved content, then lock the screen before handing off the phone or tab to my son, I would be happy to use the app again.  Until then, I recommend using the PBS Kids App or Nick JR App.  If you know of anymore, please share in the comments section.

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