YouTube Kids Controversy: Drugs and Firearm Culture Under Question

Published May 8th, 2022 - 07:36 GMT
YouTube Kids controversy
YouTube Kids has stirred controversy over several inappropriate videos. (YouTube Kids)

As the role of the digital world in everyday life deepens every day, it has become harder and harder for parents to stop their kids from consuming videos and entertainment content that is available online, but they have been feeling more at ease in recent years after kids-friendly platforms emerged claiming to offer closely-monitored and safe online environments for children.

Amongst the most trusted video-sharing apps that cater to kids' needs is YouTube Kids, which was released in 2015 to carefully filter out inappropriate videos so they keep kids safe while online.

However, recent research conducted by the US-based Tech Transparency Project has warned parents from trusting YouTube Kids so much.

According to the study highlighted recently, the child-friendly app still shows undesired content to children, in what seems to be a failure of both automated algorithms and human content moderators to detect unsuitable content and keep it out of children's reach.

Among the examples flagged by the research is a cooking show with a Breaking Bad theme, one that could encourage the use of firearms and promote a violent culture among young viewers. 

Moreover, the study that used several accounts with a variety of age groups found content that was deemed threatening to kids' self-esteem, such as ones promoting diet culture and skin bleaching.

In addition to overly commercial content that violates YouTube Kids' announced policies, the study was able to detect videos that discussed drugs, such as cocaine and crystal meth, positively, raising red flags over unsupervised use of YouTube Kids and demanding changes by the platform, to ensure a safer use for kids in the future.

One example of content that mentioned drugs is a video in a guitar-learning series featuring Eric Clapton's Cocaine song.

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