This week, the viral video “Baby Shark” became the most-viewed video on YouTube ever with seven billion views.
Yes, that’s billion with a “b.”
From toy unboxing to cartoons, there’s seemingly endless content to entertain children on YouTube. But the site is not without its dangers.
We still don’t know how screen time will affect kids in the long term. However, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that kids under two have no screen time at all. Children between two and five should get no more than an hour a day.
It’s tempting to hand kids a tablet when they’re bored or restless. But it’s not the best thing for their physical–and possibly mental–health.
We all know that children are impressionable–and they don’t have fully developed impulse control. When they see someone on YouTube pull a prank or dangerous stunt, kids may try to recreate it at home. Viral challenges, such as eating very hot peppers, might tempt older children to try making their own videos.
Copycat behavior could lead to serious injury. There are also a whole slate of popular DIY videos that can go badly wrong. Last year, a young teenager died and another was horribly burned when the girls tried to recreate a popcorn “hack” using a soda can and an alcohol burner.
It’s a good idea to take a peek at what your kids have been watching, using their viewing history, and talk to them about content that could influence them to do something dangerous.
YouTube Kids is supposed to block inappropriate content and provide a safe place for children to enjoy their favorite videos. The site offers parental controls and limits search functions so that kids don’t stumble across things they shouldn’t see–or seek them out on purpose.
Unfortunately, YouTube Kids hasn’t always filtered out that content. And some creators, for their own sick purposes, uploaded videos that would trick young viewers on purpose. These videos might use a clip from Frozen, for example, and intersperse it with violence, profanity, or shocking images.
YouTube tightened its guidelines last year to crack down on explicit content. “On August 21, 2019, we expanded our child safety policies to better protect the family experience on YouTube,” the company announced. “Content that targets young minors and families but contains sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for young audiences, is not allowed on YouTube.”