YouTube Kids. There is still a HUGE problem.

By Dr. Free N. Hess

In the last several days there has been a lot of talk about videos on YouTube and YouTube Kids that are inappropriate for our children. One of those videos, the cartoon with the suicide clip, was brought to light right here on PediMom.com. I wish I could say that they are isolated incidents but unfortunately I cannot. My research has led me into a horrifying world where people create cartoons glorifying dangerous topics and scenarios such self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence which includes a simulated school shooting. All of these videos were found on YouTube Kids, a platform that advertises itself to be a safe place for children 8 years old and under.

Below are just a few of the videos that I’ve found. All of the following videos and screenshots are from YouTube Kids specifically and all were found by me just today.

Here is a Minecraft video with multiple shooting scenes (one in a school) and swearing.

YouTube Kids Video

This is another Minecraft video with a shooting scene and swearing.

This next one is a cartoon suggesting human trafficking. An injured and abused female character disguised as a pet wolf is bought for $400 from a masked man with a simple phone call.

This on is a cartoon with a background song whose lyrics states “Oh she’s hot but she’s a psycho”. There is lots of shooting, violence, and threats to kill in this one.

In this next cartoon a young girl commits suicide with a knife after her father dies and her boyfriend breaks up with her.

In this zombie cartoon friends kill each other out of jealousy.

And finally, this cartoon has descriptive writing about a girl who is stopped from hanging herself. It speaks about standing on a chair and having a noose around her neck. 

There were just so many that I had to stop recording. I settled for screenshots of some other to give you all more of an idea of how significant this problem is. The following screenshots are of a Mario Brother cartoon where Mario goes into an all girls school and has lots of inappropriate comments and actions. There are also some screenshots of the descriptive explanation of the girl attempting to hang herself.

This is supposed to be a safe place for our children. Unlike YouTube itself, YouTube Kids is supposed to be specifically FOR kids. There has to be a better way to assure this type of content is not being seen by our children. We can not continue to risk this. Let’s come together and find a solution. #ItTakesAVillage. #YouTubeWakeUp

Use the arrow arrows to scroll through the screenshots:


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93 COMMENTS

  1. Netflix has an awesome feature that allows you to completely block shows/movies deemed inappropriate. You have to search for it under “my account.” One especially comes to mind: “Haunted House.” It features ghosts and undead with red eyes. I find it fearful. Even though there’s a happy ending with each episode, you are left with the dreadful images to dream about later. I wish I can do the same for my all the apps on my phone. Until I figure that out, I block what I can and limit exposure. Since my child is learning to spell, I share my phone only when “Guided Access” is locked on an educational app.

  2. This isn’t a problem that will ever go away. Lazy parenting is the real problem since most parents give their kids a phone and iPad as early as elementary school. Growing up in school I remember a lot of weird kids. These videos are honestly just digital versions of the stuff those kids would spout on about, and try to get others to be into. There’s only two solutions for this. But neither satisfy everyone. Complete take down of social media and media sites like YouTube. Absurd and overkill. I know. The other solution is to get over it, and watch your kids a bit more. At the least talk with them about weird videos online and tell them it’s best to avoid them. There’s really nothing else that can be done. Reporting videos takes too long. Google doesn’t want to pay people to watch videos all day every day even if they can afford it. To them it doesn’t make good business practice to spend money removing content that is getting views and making them richer.

    • As a professional who sees first hand how things like this can affect children acutely and in the long-term I respectfully, but wholeheartedly disagree with you on this. This is important and worth EVERYONE’S time. Your two “solutions” are not the only two options. I’m not saying I have all the answers but with the assistance of many people we can find a better way.

      • I have removed youtube and yt kids from every device. Only netflix allowed in the house. If more parents just refuse to use these platform, yt will have no choice but to get a grip on this crucial problem.

      • I think a broader discussion needs to be had around the Doki Doki Scene Dr. Hess showed. Although I was familiar with Doki Doki because I spend a lot of time gaming; I had never actually played it, but I recognized the game immediately when I saw it here. One discussion we need to have is why was this developed? The suicide in the last video is an actual video game that was widely sold. The next question that arises is: Why was this flagged as child appropriate? Clearly, youtube/google does not have a team of people sitting around approving pages as child friendly; there are automation bots in place that tag and filter content; why did this make the cut? Where are the bots failing and what is Google’s remediation plan?

        • “Why was this flagged as child appropriate?” So the video maker can profit from the video. The better question is why do the content creators get to first decide whether something is kid friendly or not? A: well otherwise we would have to monitor all videos submitted… and that would make youtube kids no longer free…

          “why did this make the cut?” the automatic algorithm isnt good enough to realize that the guy is making a wrist slitting action and suggesting they commit suicide… thats a rather complex thing for an algorithm to recognize. Things like this will ALWAYS slip through and beyond that some content creators are just not that ethical… as such, youtube kids is risky to show your kids bc you really just dont know what they are watching…

          … unless you watch it and filter it yourself.

        • Well the game exists as a horror version to the cheesy dating simulator games people play, and is fun if youre okay with disturbing content like that. But NO child should be shown it, its not made for kids.

        • That content is not in the Doki Doki! game itself. That recording is 4 minutes of the 9-minute video. The original video at the end states the content is from photos on imgur that the content creator pieced together with music to make it into a video. I don’t know how this got into the kids youtube itself, I don’t see an option to allow a content creator to decide whether something is kid-friendly, so it seems to be algorithm based. Look up Ronald McOnePunch’s videos and instantly you’ll know it’s not kid-friendly content. I tried to find his videos on kids youtube myself but couldn’t, so I wonder as well how this video was listed on the kids youtube app.

          Right now the only option is to use the full restricted mode of Kids YouTube that only allows the curated content (by the parent).

    • “Going away” and allowing this kind of content on a channel specifically for kids are two different things. You sound like you’re willing to let Google show your kids whatever they want, as if they have no obligation to follow through on the implicit promise of something titled “YouTube Kids”.

    • I don’t think “Lazy Parenting” is the reason for this content. I agree with you that we need to be involved with our kids, but part of the problem is the breadth and ease of access to this content. In the digital age our kids have some different issues to face than we did and we should at least try to reign some of that in. We should all talk to our kids and try to teach them about these topics but on the other hand we don’t need to turn a blind eye to this content and just say nothing can be done.

    • They have no problem quickly taking down videos that address Christian morality. I subscribe to a few Christian channels on YouTube. When they post, I get a notification popup. If the content doesn’t meet YouTube’s standards of approval of immoral behaviors, the video has disappeared by the time I click on it — within minutes of the notification. They can block this content.

  3. I’m not going to bother watching all of the examples but I clicked the “trafficking” one and wow… You are definitely reaching with that one… That’s honestly on you. Not them. Take a step back and take off the overprotective glasses and re-watch it with a hint of fantasy world len’s.

    • I respectfully disagree with you on your opinion of the cartoon that I believe is suggestive of a trafficking scenario. I’m quite educated on sextortion and trafficking and this is definitely suggestive of that. In addition, if one was to look further into similar channels and similar cartoons, on YouTube Kids and lots of other platforms, they are inappropriate in many different ways.

      • Dr Hess, I completely agree. Having just read the Jeffrey Epstein case, this video screams trafficking. All of the videos you posted are horrific. What is the matter with people even making these videos, never mind YouTubeKids posting them. Is anyone screening at YTK? Glad to be the rare household where screens (including YouTube) are hardly known/used. However, concerned about my kiddo’s friends accessing these types of things.
        Thanks for Taking the Time to Post!

    • I initially thought the same until I saw the “pet”. It’s not a pet!! It’s an abused girl. That’s messed up… And yeah, that’s traficking. Just watch till the end..

    • Um…. that video had sex trafficking written ALL OVER IT. You say for people to take off the over protective glasses, but you obvi NEEEEEEED GLASSES if you didn’t see that!

      The reality is that this is a real problem, an actual ISSUE, putting already vulnerable people even more at risk and making them even more vulnerable. The fact that you completely dismissed it as hog wash really says everything about you. GET WOKE. That was not some cutesy fantasy video. That was an intentional MESSAGE.

    • Being a teen I completely agree that these things should not be here. For starters doki doki is literally a horror game, I’m in middle school and people are still scared of it. Gacha life can be both entertaining and dangerous to watch for kids I know because my cousin sees it and I saw inappropriate images on there. YouTube is a mature website so I would understand if it was in there but YouTube kids says kids in the title if YouTube can’t do something then something will happen just like something happened to Facebook. I also don’t have social media and rarely play roblox. But nobody is safe anywhere, my sister was confronted with a predator when she was seven… SEVEN he asked for pictures after she said to him that she was seven. The world at this time is falling deeper into darkness and technology is no help. I hope that you will change this.

      • Even in the age of growing automation, there are some jobs that a bot alone cannot perform as well as a human. YouTube doesn’t seem to realize this and holds an “innocent until proven guilty” mindset, or vice versa in other situations which you know what I’m talking about.

  4. How much more suggestive are they then what we watched growing up? Ren & Stimpy? Rockos Modern Life? Common now… I get we don’t want our kids killing them selves, but now a day’s everyone is offended by the slightest bit of blood…

  5. There is an incredible need to re-evaluate how this type of media is regulated. Should free channels of user-generated content even be allowed in children’s programming? If YouTube Kids required media placement fees, they would weed out a lot of these psychos who are uploading whatever the heck they want. (television channels have media placement fees and standards — you want a show, you must pay for a spot, unless that spot is actually sponsored by the network. Think of the juicer infomercials). Why should EVERYBODY have a place at the table when it comes to creating content on such a prominent platform? If YouTube Kids could be limited to known and trusted brands and shows that actually care about children (PBS Kids, Discovery Channel etc.), this would NOT BE AN ISSUE. If the platform can not regulate their offerings to ensure safety because of the enormity of the content they have to screen, then it’s obvious they need to be more choosy about the content they make available and pare it down. This is not a hard problem to solve. But it upends their business/profit model, and that’s the issue. It reveals the inherent flaw in YTK and exposes their lack of safety design from the get-go. They should have used more forethought to anticipate how sketchy people would take advantage of the platform’s content creation privileges and taint the entire experience. I just find it so hard to believe that intelligent people at Google/Alphabet/YouTube did not see this coming. Or did they underestimate the sinister nature of their random users? How do you have that luxury when you are creating a children’s programming app? The only logical conclusion seems to be that Google/Alphabet/YouTube prioritize advertising profits over safety. So whenever I hear “safety is our number one priority” I automatically hear “profits are our number one priority.” Thank you, Dr. Hess, for speaking out and leading the charge. THIS IS NOT OK.

    • This was well-written and what YTK is doing is definitely not ok. It is about profits. There is no other conclusion reached after watching these videos in full. This targeted audience doesn’t have the emotional experience necessary to separate out these harmful messages. Shame on YTK.

    • “The only logical conclusion seems to be that Google/Alphabet/YouTube prioritize advertising profits over safety.” I mean… duh? What about the parents who choose this worse platform that prioritizes profits over safety? Is it possible, dare I say, that parents prioritize the free entertainment to the children over the safety concerns of a unmoderated platform?

      Parents and corporations’ motivations are not that out of line. They both sacrifice safety to their children for (or to save) a couple bucks.

    • Completely agree with you Sarah Siegand! It is up to EVERYONE to keep our kids safe – especially companies promoting content for children! As a parent, you expect regulated content from an app geared toward children. As parents, we absolutely have a responsibility to monitor what our children watch – but these clips have been inserted into shows – purposefully by others with intent to expose & cause harm to children – which is extremely disturbing, wrong, unethical, & downright dirty! Enough! If we can’t count on people to be ethical, moral, & considerate, then YouTubeKids has responsibility to better regulate all content! #WakeUpYouTube #ParentsDemandAction #ProtectOurKids

  6. Dr. Free, I feel like you lack the context for these videos and have completely misinterpreted them.

    Half of these videos that you’ve linked have been made with Gacha Life by other 12-13 year olds. That’s their audience. The trope listed is also a surprisingly common one in a lot of anime & web toons – wanting a pet and getting an anthropomorphic one instead. Actually, most of the content here is targetting that audience – between 12 and, say, 15 – and is just incredibly poorly filtered, because YouTube Kids sees anything animated or around that age group and assumes it’s friendly.

    Unfortunately that sort of thing will likely never be solved without manual intervention because an algorithm can’t really interpret beyond what something looks like. Knowing Google, manual intervention on the website is a laughable concept and you’ll have to settle for manually monitoring what content you children look at – which you should be doing anyway, really, and leaving kids to roam wild and watch whatever they find in suggested videos is a really poor idea.

  7. This is what happens when you allow your children to watch “child content” that is created ENTIRELY by unknown, anonymous third party creators. It costs money (or perhaps your attention) to correctly monitor these types of things… so best advice is to not use any service that is free since it necessarily MUST be lacking.

    It is YOU who is exposing your child to this risk…. not youtube. You dont let them take anything from or even talk to strangers… yet you allow strangers to control EVERYTHING your kids are looking at 2 hrs a day?… 4 hrs a day?… 8 hrs a day?… be a parent.

    • Wow, condescending much? YTK advertises itself as kid friendly and safe. Should Google have anticipated this outcome? Well seeing as they have the most advanced AI ever developed reading the entire worlds search history, then yes they should have.
      But even I will accept that they have built in filters but one of the test cases they built this around was “splice in 7.5 seconds of suicide instructions into a cartoon”, so I give them a pass for how but they need to fix the issue that let’s this type of content through.

      Oh and before you go around patting yourself on the back calling us all lazy parents (honestly I think you entire post was just formulated to let insult a straw man) remember YTK pushes itself as a safe, learning friendly free content space. If someone offered you free chicken and then kicked you in the shin while you took a bite, would you blame the chicken or the A hole who kicked you? The answer for you is probably neither youd find a way to insult the lazy non chicken cooking parents for causing this whole thing.

      • Right…. the only form of fix that could catch 7 seconds of inappropriate content is to manually review the videos. If that is required then Youtube Kids will no longer be free and then all the users who are complaining wouldnt be using it anymore anyways.

        Users need to be aware there is a risk associated with using an (effectively) unmoderated platform, the risk is that some 3rd party creator is not following the rules and some pretty awful content may appear because of it.

        Im insulting the parents because they boo-hooing that someone else isnt doing the due diligence required of them as parents. Sorry not sorry.

  8. With about 500 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, it is practically impossible to police by blacklisting/flagging bad videos. The only viable approach I can think of at the moment is whitelisting good ones. If you can gather a large enough group of trustworthy, concerned people, you can create a site that curates safe children’s videos and advertise it to people who take care of children.

    This can be done cheaply if you rely on YouTube to host the videos. There are browser extensions like Distraction Free YouTube that enables you to block comments and related videos on YouTube. Unfortunately this only works on desktop browsers as far as I know. If you can drum up enough financial and human resources for a standalone mobile app attached to a curation service, I can give you some pointers in getting the software developed.

  9. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I personally select videos for my kids to watch from “trustworthy” sources like cbckids and tvokids, but a lot of parents just give there kids a tablet/phone and say “don’t bother me”. I think what people who say that you’re stretching the video don’t realize that, like you say, youtubekids is meant to be for 8 year old and younger. Put on the glasses of a young kid and watch the video, then you realize the harm that is happening. As an adult, it’s easy to rationalize and ignore the content, but we’re adults.

  10. I get the distinct impression that these videos originated in Japan. Curious. About 20 years ago, Japanese cartoonists succeeded in inducing seizures in children watching those cartoons on television.

    See: http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9712/17/video.seizures.update/

    So, do the Japanese have an objection to children? Or do they simply appreciate the fact that a child’s mind is a highly-malleable thing? …something to be tested and toyed with.

    This is the second time I’ve posted this comment. Am I being censured? If so, why?

      • Deleting argumentative comments as they go up = Censorship

        Holding all comments for review and deleting ones that prove a point you don’t like = Not censorship?

    • Do you…. Actually think they gave kids seizures on purpose?? It was a simple dumb accident, they didn’t think about the damage the flashing colors could do. And the reason Japanese cartoons tend to have more adult themes is because they tend to make anime for an older audience. There are a few like Pokemon that are kid appropriate, but many have adult audiences and were never meant for kids in the first place. Youtube kids just sees a cartoon and assumes its safe though.

  11. Agreed on reaching with the gacha life videos… They’re memes 😂 yes small kids shouldn’t be watching those, and shouldn’t be recommended but it’s like freaking out about the 5 year old girls that play murder party with Barbie’s… It’s fantasy play that they uploaded onto YouTube.

    • This was found on YouTube Kids, not YouTube, so if it is not intended for kids then it shouldn’t be on that platform. That is the problem.

      • The problem is that you seem to want a level of moderation that a free Youtube Kids platform cannot reasonably support. Its like getting upset that the kids section of craigslist has inappropriate content… right… thats part of the risk of unmoderated content, third party submitted content.

        Perhaps the solution isnt to stop watching Youtube Kids but to stop allowing your kids to watch unmoderated content submitted by unknown third parties. ie. Know what your kids are watching.

        • Hi, WhinyLobster, if a platform called YouTube Kids is not safe for kids to watch, it shouldn’t exist. It’s really simple: kids’ safety is more important than YouTube’s profits.

        • Seriously dude you’ve posted the same thing in almost every reply thread like your ill informed conviction that if YouTubekids policed their content it would cease to be free.

          Frankly it’s a little disingenuous and suspicious. I get the impression you don’t have children and have a concealed agenda to discourage the idea or even possibility of censoring messed up people from influencing our kids.

          I kind of find it threatening when people suggest that there just needs more parental oversight, like vulnerable children who just aren’t gonna have that need to remain accessible to sick people who need a dose of their own medicine.

          I wish the ghosts of innocence killed by these ‘their own hero’ creeps would haunt them the way they would their victims

  12. Thanks for the videos. Like another commentor mentioned, the answer is more attentive parenting. Don’t give a 5 year old a device capable of viewing such content without supervision. Problem solved, whether or not YouTube acts.

    • Respectfully, if your kid is watching YouTube kids then the assumption would be that the videos are kid friendly. Do you have children, Eric? More than one? If so, you’ll know that sitting and watching a show with your child is nearly impossible given the needs of other kids and everything else that needs to get done. I’m not suggesting an iPad takes the place of adult supervision, but why fault parents for letting their kid watch something that is billed as kid friendly? How about placing some blame on the site for false advertising and blaming the sick people who splice such horrific things into videos meant for children? I know what my kids watch on YouTube kids and monitor their electronic use, control the amount of time and content they are exposed to, and don’t let any of them on social media sites – however I’m sure my methods aren’t perfect and if not for vigilant people like Dr Hess, who is working so hard to prevent kids from harm, that my kids may have also inadvertently stumbled onto one of these videos. I salute Dr Hess for her unwavering work to protect all kids.

  13. A lot of these are simply videos that shouldn’t be on “Children’s Youtube” at all. Unfortunately though, as a seventeen year old familiar with today’s culture, I can say that violence has become rather normal with video games and tv shows. I’m not blaming them for the situation and I definitely would not say “don’t let your children play this game or that game,” but rather help them understand that what’s going on shouldn’t be reacreated. I remember back in elementary and middle school, when Call of Duty had first come out, guns were a significant topic and we often played pretend shooter games with each other. It’s unfortunate that this is what childhood had come to, but it’s the way things are especially when children get to the 4th and 5th grades.
    As for the last video, the video game showed is a horror game called “Doki Doki Literature Club” and is well known for its disturbing images and triggering content, hence the “horror” aspect. Honestly have no idea how that passed any security check, considering its popularity, but nonetheless is not aimed directly at children.

    • THANK YOU
      This comment is the one that makes the most sense here in my opinion.

      As a younger person than most people here, I can approve that violence has become something kind of normal nowadays. I’m not saying it’s fine, but when I was in elementary school, I remember that me and my friends were also pretending to be shooting each other in games.

      Heck, my younger brother is still in that phase of “kid violence” and I remember being exactly the same as he is right now. And he is a perfectly normal human being, nothing made him become more violent or I don’t know what effect you people are thinking this has.

      Also, about that Doki Doki part, I find it really stupid that it found its way to YouTube Kids. As you said, the game is addressed to a mature audience because of its disturbing images and all. Plus, the video that Dr. Free N. Hess posted was a mod, in the real game Sayori actually hangs herself and you can see the whole dead body.

      I also find it hilarious, that we had Filthy Frank and SMG4 in this blog post. Every single one of my friends know that these two YouTube channels are complete jokes and, Filthy Frank especially, aren’t aimed for young kids.

      Honestly, to solve this problem I had this idea about YouTube manually choosing the videos that go on the YouTube Kids app. I know that at least 500 videos are uploaded every minute on YouTube, but I also know that kids will be satisfied by watching only the same videos over and over again. So I’m pretty sure that they won’t even notice that there is only 500 or so videos on the app. Unless the algorithm is perfect, I think the YouTube Kids app should always be took care of manually.

      I could continue writing about this for hours, but I think this will be enough. Please open your eyes, parents.

  14. I spend time reading books to my kids and keep them engaged with other activities instead of numbing their minds with youtube, tv, or any other screen time. It’s high time the parents stop depending on technology to raise their kids and start taking the responsibility of what it takes to be a parent. Forget screen time and start spending real quality time with your kids.

    • I read to myself & my kids everyday. We like to spend time outdoors together with our pets, take nature walks, go to the library, etc. If I’m busy making dinner, or working on a lesson plan for later in the week & they’ve got their chores/homework done, they’re allowed to watch cartoons on the tablet.
      If they’re watching 20 minutes of cartoons on an app that is meant for children 8 & under, I should not have to worry about my child seeing some sick disturbing adult content spliced right smack in the middle of it. If YouTube kids cannot monitor each video to be sure it is appropriate for the targeted audience (CHILDREN) they need to downsize until they can.
      This is simply unacceptable, and there will be no YouTube kids for MY kids until there are some major changes.
      I 100% agree parents need to take responsibility for their own children & what kind of content they are watching. But YouTube needs to be held accountable as well. These adult themes do not belong on an app that is created for children.

      • And just because we utilize the internet & tablets occasionally definitely doesn’t mean we are “depending on technology to raise our kids”. You simply set limits.

  15. Could it be we are sheltering children too damn much. Taking an orange and making a whole fruit salad out of it? There is no doubt in my mind that parents and doctors alike make extreme jumps when it comes to anything remotely violent, negative, or against the beliefs of that particular parent. The sheltering itself is what allows children to receive negative effects from clips like the above. Instead of hiding from the truth how about instead you educate them on it? Hiding the knowledge of bear traps from a child doesn’t prevent them from stepping in one.

    • “There is no doubt in my mind that parents and doctors alike make extreme jumps…”
      So I take it you’re not a parent, or trained in psychology or medicine. With respect, the “parenting expert who doesn’t have children” is a cliche that goes way back. I agree that instructing children on what they have seen when something escapes the filter. When my children were small, my neighbor loaned us a VHS tape recording of a children’s movie. We watched it on Friday night, then I put them to bed. I wanted to get them straight upstairs before they started getting other ideas, so I didn’t rewind the tape. I just took it out and set it on top of the VCR. The next morning at 7AM I awoke to find my 8 year old daughter and 6 year old son sitting on the edge of my bed silently. The first words out of my daughter’s mouth were, “Why did they call it Silence of the Lambs if there weren’t any lambs in the story?” I asked, “Where did you see that?” She said, “On the tape Denise gave us.” I asked, “How much did you watch?” She said, “All of it.” They had gotten up at 5AM and decided to watch the children’s movie again. So I went down and watched Silence of the Lambs for the first time, just so I could explain it to them. Trust me, IF I had known that a mother and certified child care provider had recorded an adult movie on the same tape as a children’s movie, I wouldn’t have accepted the loaner. I also wouldn’t ever have purposely shown my children Silence of the Lambs just to avoid “sheltering” my children. You have a lot to learn about child development. It’s not an “extreme jump” to recognize that children’s brains are not adult brains. By your recommendation, children should be shown EVERYTHING, no filters, because (you argue) being “sheltered” from seeing torture causes children to “receive negative effects” when they witness torture. You don’t have to show children torture to prevent them from torturing others or being victims. One final point: You don’t have the right or the authority to parent other people’s children. The African proverb, “It takes a village” doesn’t mean that you hand over authority to other people to make childrearing decisions — it means the village helps and supports parents in their decisions.

  16. I have an idea. Let’s stop blaming Corporations; whose goals are to make a profit, not educate/watch out for your kid; and let’s agree that there’s nothing positive in Social Media for a child? It’s ever so ridiculous for a child to have a YouTube account, a Facebook, Twitter or Instagram account. It is parents who see these apps as distractions for their kids and an opportunity for their own alone time that are the problem. Then they cry out and hashtag when it’s popular to do so, make them feel like a good parent. In the 80’s it would be like taking a kid into an adult bookstore, and telling him to keep his head down. But if he should look up, blame the book store owner for the filth he sells. Keep kids off social media, give them a real social life playing and studying with friends in person. It’s not any corporate CEO’s job to ensure your child is kept away from adult behaviors or product. Thank you.

    • I’m guessing you aren’t raising kids right now. YouTube is everywhere. At schools, on TVs. You don’t need an account. It’s easy to keep kids off social media. Not YouTube.

      • Almost any social media platform is usable without an account, though. It behaves just like any other one of those sites and it’s as easy to bar them off from it. Just don’t let them use it on the TV as well. Simple.

  17. As a parent and a tech exec I completely agree – this is just broken. It’s not very hard to fix, though, with a bit of engineering, so let’s fix it! Some of my former employees are at Google and we could pitch a better moderation process but I’d wager our best bet is a simple filter system that can immediately suspend content flagged by vigilant users/parents. I’ll build/fund it if other parents are interested in using it.

    • Youtube literally already has that exact process… The problem is that parents arent monitoring what their kids watch so none of them ever submit flagged content, because they arent aware of the content to begin with.

      • No – it’s actually not the process that’s in place nor do you seem to grasp the issue here. Even my engineering teams at Disney wrestled with UGC moderation and timely responses to flagged content. FB struggles with this also. If you’ve run a large tech org you’d understand the challenges here. What’s offensive to some may be acceptable to others and unless the content clearly violates a policy it’s not going to be addressed (or not in a timely manner). The optimal solution is to put moderation tools in the hands of people that are actually paying attention to what their kids consume so groups with similar values can effectively curate content that’s “appropriate” for themselves. I’ll release the tech I built for my family. Solved.

  18. Nevermind that the bear being shown in the videos (the monster school one at the top – the only one I could stomach watching to even halfway through) is referred to as “pedo-bear” as in pedophile. As if the content wasn’t objectionable enough… I deal with this sort of stuff all the time as a parent of a 3 year old. It’s even making its way into Amazon Prime Video, which was supposed to be a place to watch actual television content – not stuff like this. It’s nowhere near as bad as on YouTube, but when I leave my daughter watching My Little Pony, and come back to her watching a Let’s Play of a video game, I have to ask myself what other content she could potentially access. The only sensible answer is supervision, and control. Until YouTube and other streaming providers get their s-tuff together, we can’t trust them to decide what’s best for our children to watch. And even if they do, there will still be those out there who say it isn’t good enough…

  19. It’s not a problem with the content, it’s a problem with the filter that keeps inappropriate videos of youtube kids. SMG4 contains mostly adult jokes and shouldn’t be on youtube kids. Doki Doki Literature Club (while it doesn’t appear so) is a horror game that contains elements of bodily harm. Many Gacha Studio anamations are made by kids. Youtube kids needs to be an entirely different platform, instead of a funnel for (mostly) kid friendly videos that already exist on youtube.

  20. I’m less concerned about other kids seeing the videos and more concerned about the young people who are making the videos and the reasons why they’re making the videos. Suicidal ideations, depression, anxiety are not contagious. I agree that young children should not be introduced to these concepts in this way, but what more can we do to help children and youth who are experiencing these forms of darkness. Removing the videos is a bandaid for a bigger problem (that still should be done, but there needs to be more).

  21. quit using the internet to raise your kids!! bottom line. take a moment and review videos that you find educational and appropriate and make a playlist, EASY. or shut up and let the internet decide. be proactive or be lazy. the choice is yours.

  22. I’m definitely with Dr. Free on the trafficking one and basically on all the other ones, the problem is that you can be checking on whatever your kids are watching at home but lazy or irresponsible parents that give all of the tech available to their kids reach your kids at school, that is the difficult part to deal with. My 10 year old and her little girlfriends were exposed to porn pics at lunch time by an older boy using his cellphone. So, as long as there are lazy parents, our kids are going to have to deal with things that we, as good parents would not wanted them to deal with. That is the real tragedy and YouTube should be held accountable.

  23. This U tube for kids is terrible. It’s sad that any thinking person could see any one of these videos as anything mentally or spiritually healthy for kids or adults. No one has the right to poison minds, and especially selling it as children entertainment. This issue definitely needs to be taken up. Thank you for your astute observations about this. And for speaking out about it. I was not aware of this before this article and will be in the fight against this poison.

  24. Thank you for bringing this aweful garbage to parents attention. I am one of the extremists I guess because I took YouTube kids off our phone permanently 2 1/2 weeks ago. I started to feel like my son didnt want to do anything but watch YouTube kids and I realized I want these precious hours, days, weeks with him. I dont want him learning garbage from random people and things. I’m so glad I cut it all off. He’s innocent and needs my protection.

  25. Thank you for taking the time to post this blog! I got rid of our YouTube Kids App about a year ago because of this same issue. My child had not yet viewed anything inappropriate, but I wanted to play it safe and completely remove it before that happened. I wish all parents would just get rid of it, but I know this will never happen. I believe that if we keep fighting this together and enough people take a stand, something will change for the better. There has to be someone with more authority we can contact to find a solution to this… It HAS to stop!!! Maybe YouTube should start screening every single video before it’s released for viewing. Yes that will require a lot of their time, but it will weed out all of the bad ones while protecting thousands of innocent children from being exposed to such awful things! If they know that their WHOLE video has to be screened before posting in the App, then they will move to a different platform. Also, they should limit the length of the videos. Nothing longer than 10-15 mins each, and maybe even cap uploads to a set number/week or month. These extra steps could be all it takes to get YouTube Kids safe again (if it ever was).

  26. Thank you so much for doing the work to look into this, and then bringing it to our attention. I had heard rumors of this very recently, but hadn’t yet seen any evidence or explanation of it all.

    I’m in a unique situation of sharing custody of my kids with a man who does not care at all about any of this. Letting my kids have phones that I can remotely monitor is an improvement over them using the unfiltered devices at his home. As much as I want to remove YTK from their phones now that I’ve seen this, I know that doing so will open them up to unsupervised use of regular you tube.

    Can you clarify some of your findings? YTK let’s you choose which age group your kids should be watching (vaguely described as something like “older” and “younger”). Were these videos found in both areas? Also, I would be interested to hear what words you used to search and find these videos. YTK has the option to turn off searching, and I’m wondering if that would help.

  27. Thanks for sharing just putting it out there that there is a parent-approved content option that you can turn on and only videos that you allow will be available.

  28. How about watch your kids instead of letting the Internet do it for you. I can’t tell how many small children I see what their eyes glued to a fucking screen all day. Moms eyes are glued to hers. So yeah. Easy fix, watch your kids, teach your kids, instill them with the values and morals to be a good person in society. It really is that simple.

    • Not disagreeing that parents and kids watch WAY too much these days but not watching anything on a screen doesn’t equal a good person, either. I think you can have screen time and still be a good person. But agree that it has gotten out of hand.

  29. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. I admit we can all be taking a closer look at the media choices around our household especially with what our children have access to.

  30. Thank you so much Dr. Hess to bring awareness to this problem. I’m not sure YouTube or others will be good stewards of what our kids watch, but at least we are aware of the danger, and can become more vigilant of the content our kids are exposed to.

  31. As a physician and mother, I appreciate what Dr. Hess is doing by alerting parents and media giants to the hidden dangers of the internet. Clearly, these subtly inserted video clips in cartoons of an adult instructing “kids” how to commit suicide by cutting their wrists is intended to harm the most vulnerable viewers. Both parents that allow free access to the internet for young children, and the internet channels that allow these videos to be posted indiscriminately are responsible. Thank you, Dr. Hess, for bringing this troubling subject to light.

  32. I believe if YouTube bothered to make a separate App specific to children under 8, they need to do a better job of filtering videos.
    I don’t honestly believe most parents use screens as a “babysitter” but definitely for some peace and quiet when needed.
    So I just bought my daughter a tablet for the first time when she turned 7. I know she’s at an age where she can tell right/wrong and will show me when she finds inappropriate videos. However, younger kids don’t understand that. And when mom needs a break because kid(s) have been running her insane since 6am, yeah she’s going to allow them an hour of screen time.
    We also need to think of the kids who are not normal functioning. Kids with autism, epilepsy, ADHD… Who’s brains are different and can have an ENTIRELY different reaction to these things.
    So sure, parents shouldn’t be using screens all day, every day. But YouTube Kids also needs to do a better job of monitoring!

  33. The cartoon from your video seems to be made and animated using Garry’s Mod. A quick search will show what can be done with it, though most GMod animations are for a teen and adult audience. They are known for being (usually) poorly made, outlandinsh and full of random humor. As for the person in the video, it’s of Filthy Frank infront of a greenscreen. Its not his responsibility for whats done with it, and it’s clearly for laughs. The purpose of his character is to mock and become the worst aspects of a person, and it succeeded. But I digress, why this was on the YT Kids app is concerning, but the original video, while poorly made, I doubt any reasonable person would take it seriously for advice.

    • But it did make it onto YouTube Kids and children aren’t reasonable people (by design) and are unable to differentiate what to take seriously and what not to take seriously.

  34. Thank you for sharing. I read the article and it makes me sick! I don’t understand why YouTube does not have a system in place to track the IP address of these “cyber-criminals” (both people acting in the videos as well as the video-uploaders) and forward it to the police with a report and images to put them behind bars where they belong. Or is there a system in place?

  35. This issue could not be more important! Thank you for your tireless efforts in bringing this to the public’s attention. I cannot tell you how many parents are eager to protect their kids from risks they don’t know are out there. Keep up your good work — you have my support!

  36. Unless you’re part of the solution, you’re part of the problem – Dr Hess is clearly part of the solution, whereas I’m wondering how those on here attacking her and judging parents rather than condemning the videos and YouTube kids can see themselves as anything but part of the problem.

  37. The one with the girl being talked down from killing herself is from a game called Doki Doki Literature Club. Its a fun and creative horror game for adults, but its very violent and should not be exposed to children!!! Come on YouTube!!!

  38. Unfortunately, I have to agree with what others are saying and say the easiest fix is to not allow your kids to use YouTube or YouTube kids until they are older (think teenagers, in my opinion).

    I’m a younger millennial (22 years old) and was astonished when I went home and found that my 9 year old brother is allowed to freely watch YouTube for hours on end. I found him watching several inappropriate videos. This would’ve never flown when I was a kid. (And I’m not even a conservative person)

    As consumers, you have a choice. You can choose not to support these websites, or you can choose to use them and be prepared for the risks that come with it. Others are right – hundreds of hours of videos are uploaded every minute (seriously, 300 hours a minute!). There is no way that YouTube can police all of this. I agree that they should be held much more accountable for removing disturbing content, though.

    When I was a kid my Mom only let me watch PBS and DVDs she selected. When I started being mature enough for PG-13 movies, my mom would watch them with me and explain anything edgy. I wasn’t even allowed to watch PowerPuff Girls before middle school because it was ‘too violent’.

    I’m shocked by the amount of free-reign kids are being given on the internet these days. Pre-approve content or watch along with your kids and you won’t have to be surprised by a shocking video that your child may come across. Letting your child loose on YouTube (or the internet in general) is letting your child loose in the world.

    Seems especially weird to me that so many parents are scared to let their kids play outside unsupervised, but aren’t scared to let them internet browse unsupervised. Even on ‘kid-safe’ things like Roblox, there are creeps.

  39. You do realize those GachaWorld videos are made by 12-14 year olds right their basically wish fulfillment videos by young people who don’t know what their doing. I think this is more YouTube’s fault for posting it on on the kids channel as opposed to the actual content creators themselves. It’s YouTube’s bots that check videos to see if they’re appropriate for children are the problem because as far as I’m aware you can’t upload directly to YouTube Kids.

  40. NETFLIX has pornography. My child searched “kiss” and several MA shows popped up. You can block the shows by age rating, but the porn is there and once they can read, they can change settings. We canceled NETFLIX.

  41. The content of these videos is profoundly disturbing. Not a single redeeming feature. The videos are extremely depressing, highlighting negative emotions while doing nothing to uplift or educate children. So simplistic, these videos are dumbing kids down even as they show that shooting people is a fun thing to do. This is a product of disturbed minds foisted upon young impressionable kids. In response to those who say that cartoons have always been violent, for sake of comparison there is a classic Donald Duck cartoon where Donald visits Mathmagic Land. And yup, Donald carries a shotgun, but he’s not gunning down everything he sees. In fact, he uses the gun to play tic-tac-toe with another character. And yup, the background is a bit spooky. Mathmagic Land is a mysterious place. Through it all, Donald actually learns…math. It’s really cool. It also seems impossibly highbrow compared to the crudely rendered videos of today. As if the only way to entertain today’s children is through dumb, mindless violence.

  42. Thank you for stepping up to bring more awareness to this problem. Our son committed suicide 4 years ago at age 14. We found out afterwards that he had looked up several videos on YouTube telling him exactly how to do it. One can even look up how to pick locks on gun safes. We were monitoring his phone but he found ways to research anyhow. I brought this to the attention of one of our state politicians but I don’t think it made an impression enough to make any changes. So thank you for fighting for our kids’ lives.

    • I am so, so sorry to hear about your son. Thank you for sharing his story. Kids like him are why I fight. Sending you so much love!

  43. I realize, Dr. Hess, that you keep making the distinction between YouTube and YouTube Kids solely because they are advertised differently. But, unfortunately, YouTube Kids might as well be considered YouTube. The children’s platform is monitored by an algorithm, basically a robot, to curate its content. Content creators have no say in the matter. And although the videos themselves suggest they would be kids cartoons, the algorithm cannot analyze them perfectly. This is why YouTube Kids is a big mistake on YouTube’s part. Every parent should be using trusted sources instead of YouTube. Yes, I said YouTube. Because that’s basically what you’re letting them watch. Stop kidding yourself.

  44. Very neutral about this situation since for one I agree that YouTube kids should do a better job monitoring videos but I don’t think this should affect the “normal” YouTube. Just my opinion

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