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Can We Actually Keep Our Children Safe on YouTube?

Now when it comes to screen time for children it's always something that is highly debated. Some parents will allow their children unlimited screen time, after all getting those five minutes to enjoy a cup of tea can do wonders for a mood. And then there are parents that limit their children's screen time. Now we are a family that allow screen time in moderation. Those minutes during screen time are absolutely magical. I think that children born into the digital generation are lucky and are far more intelligent that we ever were. My daughter is drawn to technology like moths to flame. It doesn't seem to matter whether it's a smartphone, tablet, electronic game or the television. As soon as it lights up, so do her eyes. There are a countless number of amazing apps that can actually help enhance your child's development, some promote motor skills, enhance memory and pattern recognition. But one thing that all children love to watch is YouTube. 

Many parents feel really safe allowing their children to watch the kids version of YouTube, which is an app specifically designed for children, making it easier for children and parents to find content they are interested in. However, quite recently disturbing videos that were found by a parent show that YouTube may not be safe for kids at all. And it's actually quite scary. 

If you're a parent you may have heard about the 'Momo Challenge'? It was a video that was discovered by a mum on both YouTube and YouTube Kids that gave children instructions on how to kill themselves. I was completely shocked and sadden to see such a video circulated and as a parent I want to try and protect my daughter as much as I can. In the video you will see a scary doll that encourages the young viewers to add a contact on messaging service WhatsApp, then sends them violent images and dares. Furthermore, it encourages them to self-harm and the ultimate post that tells them to take their own lives.  

There is no disputing the content being sent is horrendous and probably one of most awful things I have seen as a parent, but there is an underlying issue that seems to be overlooked. This 'Momo Challenge' isn't the first of it's kind and I'm sure it won't be the last. Sadly, these videos all have an underlying theme of danger. This time a couple of years ago, there was the 'Blue Whale Challenge', which pushed young teens to commit suicide in different parts of the world. Now the 'Momo Challenge' is doing the same where children are feeling pressured to either follow orders by carrying out challenges in a WhatsApp message or because of peer pressure in a chat room. These cruel challenges are tools to aid cyber bullying and cyber criminals to cause harm and get their hands on personal information about the victim. 

Unfortunately, many young adults and teenagers are often the viewers aimed to take on such challenges, videos that tend to go viral. In taking part in such sickening challenges they can cause harms to others, themselves and in doing so give out confidential information because they are too scared. The 'Momo Challenge' has sadly has claimed lives of young children and teens already, and as parents we need to be extra vigilant and keep our children safe. 

My daughter is learning about safety online at school this week, and so along with schools we need to ensure that children are aware, more than ever about the dangers online. By ensuring that as parents we know what children are able to access to online is essential. Set those parental controls, limit their screen time, uninstall apps that get them online. Ensure children understand the importance of not giving personal information to anyone they do not know. And more importantly reassure children that no on has the right to make them do anything that they don't want to do. 

Can we actually keep our children safe on YouTube?

We all know that this isn't the first time that these awful and sick videos have filtered through onto the children's version of YouTube, so now we need to ask the question. Can we actually keep our children safe on Kids YouTube now? It's really important that you're mindful about what your child has access to. Sadly, the biggest problem is that YouTube has very limited parental controls. 

Now before this challenge came about, we decided to stop watching YouTube in our house. We noticed a big change in our daughter's behaviour and YouTube was the defining cause. The fact that our daughter was picking up language and behaviours from things she was watching on YouTube made us really think about her screen time. One moment she would be sassy and the next she would have a snarky tone and would tell my husband and I that she didn't want to live with us anymore. At times she would get angry too. I also started to notice a change in some of the words she would use like 'diaper' and 'vacation'. So it was time for some change. We decided to find a quiet moment to talk to our daughter about the change in her behaviour and that we had noticed that she would act a certain way when she was on YouTube. So we decided to limit the app at first, which is now become indefinitely. We have seen such a change in her behavior and the snarky tones have disappeared, well until she's at least ten anyway. For us ditching YouTube has been the best thing for us. 

However that's not to say you have to do the same, as there are still some ways to protect your children. Set those restrictions on the device on any app you use. When it comes to YouTube you can choose the restricted mode that helps to filter out mature videos. But in light of the 'Momo Challenge' parents should be urged to be more vigilant when it comes to YouTube. Be more aware of the type of content your child is watching, ask them questions, perhaps even watch with them. So you can see how they can access new content and filter through. When YouTube was allowed in our home I would let my daughter watch Play-Doh or Kinder Egg Surprise videos however she would always end up watching some adults dressing up as superheros or princesses that would fight with one another, use bad language and behave badly. Is it such a bad thing that we have decided to ditch YouTube for good?

As everyone’s experience of YouTube is completely different to the next it's hard for parents to figure out how worried they should be and therefore how they should react. I know that the 'Momo Challenge' has really made more parents wary and some have banned YouTube in their homes. Some have even claimed that the video is a hoax, but I think that everyone seems to be missing the underlying issue with media fuelled craze. As parents we need to be more aware of what our children are watching, teach them about being safe online and more importantly reassure our children that no on has the right to make them do anything that they don't want to do. There are plenty of video alternatives exist aimed at children. You could download Netflix, CBeebies or a child -friendly learning app. We also have a few app suggestions over on this post too. There are always alternatives if you do allow screen time. But for us, it's bye bye YouTube and I can't say that it's going to be something that we will miss. 

What are you thought on the YouTube? Do you allow your children to watch it?
14 comments on "Can We Actually Keep Our Children Safe on YouTube?"
  1. My two older girls have tablets but rarely use them.but because of this I did some research and found momo very easy and if I found this easy so could my girls. I've decided to stop watching YouTube and it's not a bsd thing as it was changing my daughters moods and attitudes. A good old Disney film for a treat is much better or a good board game from now on.

  2. Its scary the ads that seem to be popping up on you tube at the moment. Surely you tube need to take some responsibility for this.

  3. Its such a tough one. The internet can be such an amazing place and so many resources, games and apps for kids but then there's a very dark side and how one wrong click can end up you somewhere very different. I've always taught my eldest to ask before downloading apps and to be very careful on youtube and to tell me about anything that's inappropriate. We also regularly check her history as well as having parental controls.

  4. Oh my goodness i wanst aware of those types of videos circulating around - we allow our daughter to watch youtube on my channel with me having aclear view of what shes watching - but still as a parent we want to protect our kids from comming across those types of videos

  5. I do allow my children to watch YouTube, the younger ones are usually in the same room as me but the older ones are often in their rooms. I do worry about their safety and the Momo thing is awful, very frightening.

  6. I think for most of us when YT kids was introduced, we all thought this is perfect and ideal for our children but now not so sure. It is hard to keep kids safe online

  7. It's really tough getting the balance right and as you say you have to do what's right for you and your children. We all want to keep our kids safe so it's always good to talk to them about online safety and put our own appropriate measures in place.

  8. Life is very much going digital and I don't want my kids being left behind with it, it has so many positives and it's just sad that people need to ruin that. I think we just need to keep them as informed as possible

  9. This MoMo stuff is creepy! When I was a kid, the internet was just being born and YouTube didn't exist, but there were loads of chat rooms and flash game sites to keep people entertained. I remember there being limited parental control and no one ever spoke to me about internet safety. Now it's as important to discuss as stranger danger! I too noticed a difference in behaviour after banning YouTube.

  10. I've had a few incidents lately where my kids have seen things on Kids You Tube that they really shouldn't have - including bad language. I've banned it completely now!

  11. I guess nobody knows if the Momo challenge is actually real or not but what it highlights is just how vulnerable they are using any of these kind of platforms. I only let my daughter watch things on Netflix, Amazon and BBC where it is all self contained for that reason. It's scary!

  12. all of this stuff is so scary! i dont have any babies yet but i know that the issues are only going to get worse and worse! i hope your helpful post is seen as much as possible!

  13. Such an interesting post and it’s such a difficult one. I’d not know how to feel or what to do for the best if I had children.

  14. We've recently stopped You Tube too. My son use to watch quite a few surprise egg videos and the like. I found it really useful when he was littler and I had a newborn baby too. But lately I found it hard to monitor what he might watch and didn't want to take the risk. My daughter has also got interested in the ipad and I just find it so much harder to limit than the tv. He does the odd app now, but no You Tube and I'm trying to keep the 3 year old off the ipad altogether! x


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