Kids are getting bombarded with everything from pornography to instructions and encouragement to commit suicide on YouTube and YouTube KIDS.
This week Dr. Free Hess, a pediatrician and mother uncovered suicide instructions right in the middle of a video designed and targeted to children.
“Remember kids: sideways for attention, longways for results,” the man says in the clip.
He then points at the camera and shouts, ‘End it!’
From Dr. Hess:
“Exposure to videos, photos, and other self-harm and suicidal promoting content is a huge problem that our children are facing today,” Hess wrote. “Suicide is the SECOND leading cause of death in individuals between the ages of 10 and 34, and the numbers of children exhibiting some form of self-harm is growing rapidly.”
Hess pointed out on her blog that a nationwide survey of high school students in the U.S. found that over 1.5 high school students out of 10 have seriously considered suicide. The percentage of high schoolers who have seriously considered suicide has risen 25 percent since 2009, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Every year 157,000 young people between the ages of 10 and 24 present to Emergency Departments for self-inflicted injuries and/or suicide attempts,” Hess stressed. “Many experts believe that access to self-harm and suicide-promoting content is making the situation worse. There have been several recent reports of teens committing suicide after viewing self-harm and suicide material online and on social media platforms.”
Messages Are Popping Up Everywhere on YouTube
Just last week we shared this heartbreaking message on our Facebook page from a mom who's child brought home this piece of artwork from school. Be sure to read the entire message below the photo:
From Meridy Leeper via Facebook:
This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post. I've thought long and hard about this. I've decided it's way too important not to bring awareness to other parents. This is not up for criticism. I only want to let all parents know what to watch for....
Kids youtube, roblox, fortnight... no matter how much you think you are monitoring your child.. notifications to what your child is watching. It doesn't matter. My 7 year old child was taught how to attempt suicide by kids youtube and these games. She has expressed that she doesn't feel neglected or unloved. Instead, she was constantly told to 'go kill yourself' by other gamers, by kids youtube. Shown HOW to.
Sunday night, she had a full blown anxiety attack. Which I held her and sang to her while she got through it. Monday, she drew this in school.
This is a VERY real danger! I NEVER thought I would find myself helping my SEVEN YEAR OLD CHILD through an anxiety attack. PLEASE, keep your children away from these things. I'm just so glad my child was able to express her feelings before she actually tried to harm herself. I never thought something as 'innocent' as kids youtube would have these subliminal messages. Again, I'm only sharing our experience in the hopes to prevent another child going through this.
A Child Pornography Ring on YouTube Kids Was Uncovered Last Week
Last week a child pornography ring was uncovered posting and sharing child pornography on otherwise innocent videos created by moms and children.
The Takeaway: YouTube is not a place for kids to view content unchecked! (if at all)
Here's what you can do:
- Block YouTube as an app and website on your kid's phones, tablets, and devices
- Reserve YouTube viewing for your desktop computer ideally kept in an open space like your kitchen in your home
- Install a monitoring service like Bark to alert you to any dangerous content or digital behavior
- Talk to your kids about what to do WHEN (because they will) they run into something inappropriate on YouTube (and why YouTube is not a great place for them to spend time)
Listen, I don't want to be the buzz kill in the room, and I want to promote all of the joy and wonders that come from technology. But parents -- we really need to ask ourselves: Is it worth letting YouTube babysit?
There are some great things we've been able to access YouTube for. Kahn Academy has saved our bacon when it comes to math homework. We've found lots of great information on YouTube over the years. Those moments have something in common. The good stuff is found when we have gone to YouTube TOGETHER, with a PURPOSE, and out in the OPEN in our home.
What happens when auto play is on and we're letting YouTube babysit is just not worth the risk.
Podcast Interview with Lisa Thee on How to Protect Your Kids on YouTube
We talked to Lisa Thee. Lisa is a tech industry leader with expertise in child safety. She is passionate about bringing leading-edge technology to protect vulnerable populations while helping parents to keep their kids safe in the digital age.
She leads artificial intelligence teams to address the most pressing issues of human trafficking, child sexual abuse material, cyberbullying, mental health, and self harm.
Listen to the full interview with Lisa Thee HERE.