Parents Warn: This YouTube Kids Content Turns Sickly Violent Out of Nowhere
I looked up the channel online, and clicked on one of the videos, which featured cartoon characters from the popular children's show Peppa Pig. The video seemed harmless enough, accompanied by lyrics like, "Daddy finger, daddy finger, where are you? Here I am. Here I am. How do you do?"
But according to the social media posts of several highly concerned parents, some of these videos turn dark and violent, featuring Disney characters shooting each other in the head with guns, without warning. Now, these parents want to caution others about the inappropriate and potentially scarring content available on the YouTube Kids app.
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A quick click over to iTunes tells moms and dads that the app is "designed for curious little minds to dive into a world of discovery, learning and entertainment. This is a delightfully simple (and free!) app, where kids can discover videos, channels and playlists they love."
But there's nothing to love about watching Mickey's brain matter gush out of his head upon being murdered. A few moms were aghast to witness their kids viewing the graphic footage. One such mother, Beth Brister-Kaster, posted a warning to Facebook, along with a video that shows the sickening content.
"Omg Every parent that has you tube kids on a phone or tablet. MUST WATCH and make sure you share," she wrote, later adding, "Just to clarify things: The video has since been deleted from the kids app. Also to clarify things up I deleted the app then took this video on my phone though safari on the regular YouTube."
Another angry mama, Chaye Benjamin, posted a video to Facebook expressing her strong emotions over her toddler seeing the footage. "PLEASE WATCH!!! Our children are open to this madness!! *Sorry for the ugly cry... broke my heart," Benjamin wrote.
Still, more parents took to social media to share their disapproval of the channel, and spread the word.
Their calls to action even spurred an online petition on Change.org asking YouTube to ban the channel from YouTube so no more disturbing videos can be added.
For its part, YouTube said in a statement, "We appreciate people drawing problematic content to our attention, and make it possible for anyone to flag a video. Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and any videos that don't belong in the app are removed."
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It seems for now, the content in question has been removed, and the channel is no longer available on the YouTube Kids app. However, the channel is still live on YouTube, which is what parents want to change, as they fiercely believe the creators are targeting children. Here's hoping their efforts spur tighter controls on the content available to kids, and perhaps serve as a reminder to parents to pre-screen anything their kids plan to watch.
What's your take?
Melissa Willets is a writer/blogger and a mom. Follow her on Twitter (@Spitupnsuburbs), where she chronicles her love of exercising and drinking coffee, but never simultaneously.