“If you take one thing away from this, it’s that if you have small children, keep them the hell away from YouTube.” –James Bridle
This TED Talk really hits close to home
Surprise Egg Videos
Poorly Animated Nursery Rhymes
Bizarre Role Play With Action Figures
Families Dressed Up As Princesses Having Adventures
Knock Off Paw Patrol and Peppa Pig Videos
I’ll admit. We used to let our 5 year old watch these kinds of videos. If you have small kids, I’m sure you’ve seen them too. MILLIONS of these pepper YouTube’s landscape.
Before she started Pre-K, my daughter would sit and watch them beside me on an iPad while I worked. Easy distraction. I try to limit screen time, but it is what it is sometimes.
The videos seemed harmless, but as time went by I started overhearing things as they played that left me feeling unsettled.
At first, I wasn’t hearing anything necessarily bad. What troubled me was that there wasn’t anything particularly GOOD about the videos. They were loud and annoying and really kind of dumb. They served no intellectual or moral purpose. It was the same mindless dreck over and over again.
And she LOVED them.
She could stay glued to the screen for hours if I let her. Excited about every single toy reveal. Singing happily along to every bland, dead-eye nursery rhyme cartoon. You know the ones I’m talkin’ about.
After a while YouTube’s autoplay led to some unnerving suggestions. Videos of toys puking and pooping. Even strange birthing scenes portrayed by Barbie dolls showed up to the party.
Then, the violent ones started to crop up. Spanking as punishment carried out by action figures. Adults dressed as characters from kids shows harming one another. Each of them titled exactly like the seemingly innocent ones. That was enough. No more. How did I know YouTube wouldn’t keep suggesting more like them?
I couldn’t monitor every single autoplay, and being interrupted to start a new video every couple of minutes was impractical.
No parent can keep track of every single one. The sheer number of available videos, cheaply produced in mass quantities for maximum ad revenue, is staggering. So we stopped letting her watch YouTube.
I knew I had made the right decision when I saw James Bridle’s Medium piece a few months ago. And just recently I came across his TED Talk addressing the harm these videos do to kids as well as larger issues around technology in our world.
Sure, YouTube serves a valuable purpose in our society. But, it’s still the Wild West when it comes to media distribution. Bad actors blend right in, showing themselves to whomever the algorithm deems appropriate.
Letting a young child loose in that kind of limitless territory seeeeems like not such a good idea.
Do you agree? Take a look at the video and let me know!
Is “children’s YouTube” a nightmare? Should you let your kids watch it all?
Hit me up in the comments because I’d love to hear from other parents. Also, hit the share button to tell your friends 🙂