YouTube Kids was created to keep kids away from the numerous disturbing videos on the app’s main website. It’s designed exclusively for younger children and includes how to set up parental control to give the parents or guardians total control of the kids’ online activities. However, Newsround has reported having found certain videos very unsuitable for kids.
Social media companies were criticised for doing nothing about protecting kids online. Many children become victims of some of the nefarious activities such as sexual assault and cyberbullying. In a bid to minimise these dangers, Facebook created the Messenger app for kids but has also witnessed a backlash of recent. Notably, both platforms give a total access to parents to monitor the online activities of their kids.
YouTube Kids faced a similar criticism in 2015 from two child safety groups who spoke about inappropriate videos they had seen on the main YouTube website. One of such videos was an image of clowns covered in blood and scare messages asking them to open the door for someone who was knocking.
Google’s Katie O’Donovan apologised for any discomfort the videos may have caused. She said:
“We’ve actually built a whole new platform for kids, called YouTube Kids, where we take the best content, stuff that children are most interested in and put it on there in a packaged up place just for kids.”
Nevertheless, the website supposedly designed for kids is facing a new criticism of showing a video of how to sharpen a knife and another, of Mickey Mouse characters armed with guns with injured children. This clear depiction of violence has been greatly criticised and YouTube has responded saying that it was putting things in place to ensure a safe platform for its viewers. “We have seen significant investment in building the right tools so people can flag that content and those flags are reviewed very, very quickly. We’re also beginning to use machine learning to identify the most harmful content, which is then automatically reviewed”, YouTube said.
Facebook faced a similar challenge of flagging unsuitable contents automatically but have so far been able to work it out. A billion hours of videos are uploaded to the platform but it appears that these videos are not properly scrutinized before they go live. Asked if the videos are checked before they are made available to the kids, the company responded: “We have a responsibility to make sure the platform can survive and can thrive so that we have a collection that comes from around the world on there.”