Opinion

Adding 'Kids' to YouTube Doesn’t Make It Safe

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Posted: Mar 04, 2019 12:30 PM
The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not represent the views of Townhall.com.
Adding 'Kids' to YouTube Doesn’t Make It Safe

Source: AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama

As a mom and a counterculture warrior, I have warned parents nationwide about the dangerous behaviors Hollywood has been glamorizing in the entertainment industry for decades. Now, cutting and suicide is being targeted to our children on YouTube Kids. Suicide is being taught to our five year-olds; how low can we go as a society? With suicide as the number two cause of death among our teens, this issue with YouTube Kids is very concerning to me.

The scary thing about this story is that it took up to a week for YouTube Kids to pull this graphic video down. Some other videos promoting cutting took over eight months for YouTube to remove them! These short suicide endorsements are just one of many issues with YouTube and YouTube Kids. For example, "Minecraft" gaming videos show real-life pornographic scenes as well as parody videos which show Disney characters like Anna, Elsa and Spiderman engaging in sexual activity with each other and even Peppa Pig parodies showing her decapitation. With millions of views per video, many children have seen this graphic content mostly by mistake and without their parents' knowledge.

As if "13 Reasons Why" on Netflix isn’t causing enough damage. The recent influx of videos, throughout children’s cartoons, on YouTube Kids encouraging kids to slit their wrists and demonstration of how to do so, is why we can no longer trust the labeling of entertainment platforms. As parents, we must be more diligent on what messages enter our homes, now more than ever. In YouTube’s case, adding “kids” is an open invitation for explicit content and dangerous endorsements for our children. What Free Hess and other parents around the nation are finding on their kid's video history, is atrocious.

Parents are having a hard time keeping up with the ever-growing number of different media sources that are after our children's attention. It is critical, that we as adults, know what is influencing our children and protect them from as much harmful content as possible. As the "Counterculture Mom", I alert parents of any potential pop-culture threats and inform them of the many positive entertainment options that exist but are not well known because of the major censorship happening in our country. I make sure parents are aware of where to get these family-friendly media options ranging from movies, TV shows, video games, even magazines that promote a positive self-image. YouTube is, unfortunately, one of many internet traps set up to corrupt our children.  When it comes to an app like YouTube Kids, as parents we need to be more informed on just what messages it is sending to young impressionable minds.

The problem with today's entertainment is that it's glamorizing harmful and even deadly behaviors without showing the consequences. It is too focused on showing the glamorized “real” and “relatable,” while also pushing a selfish agenda. I highly believe, if our children saw programming that endorsed a positive self-image, how to give back to society, have respect for each other and their parents, wardrobe choices that promoted modesty and sexual purity, etc. we would have a completely different-looking younger generation. Young adults would be joyful, not depressed. High self-esteem and outlook on life, not struggling with identity and gender issues. Focused on saving lives, not engaged in violence and murder. You get my point. Entertainment absolutely creates the worldview of our young people today. I have heard countless personal stories while traveling and speaking to teens and parents for over 17 years on how the media they engaged in, urged them to do things they never wanted to experience.

The only defense we have as parents against this harmful content is to do a pop culture purge and closely monitor what our children are consuming online and even in books brought home from school. I want to encourage you that just because Hollywood pumps out the trash, doesn’t mean we have to eat it. My job is to help you stay-in-the-know about what you need to watch out for. I know it can be overwhelming and time-consuming. I will help you safely navigate the chaos. The next generation's self-esteem and purpose for living are at stake, we must lead them down the right positive track.

If you still want to allow your children to consume content on YouTube and YouTube Kids, the best way to keep them safe is to create playlists with videos you have already previewed. It is the only way to guarantee that your children will not be exposed to explicit and inappropriate content on YouTube. I have been doing this in my own home for years. I homeschool my four munchkins who are ten, eight, seven and five and created playlists with schooling information from memorizing the state capitals, learning about God’s creation, and the true history of the United States of America. We must counter the current culture. The numerous emails I receive weekly from parents around the nation about their children having nightmares because they stumbled upon these graphic videos on YouTube Kids are proof that there’s a huge need for us to be watchful on what “entertainment” we allow our kids to engage in. I am excited and honored to be on this journey with you on creating counterculture warriors in our home, no matter how chaotic the world gets around us.

Tina Griffin, the Counter Culture Mom, a former Hollywood actress, speaker, author, host of Hollywood Insider and resides in Nashville, TN where she homeschools her four munchkins and is busy saving America with her husband Luke.