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Forget Momo, here’s what parents really need to understand about YouTube

If you clicked on this article hoping to read about Momo, you are in the wrong place. The horrifying creature has already gotten more attention than she (it?) deserves, and I’d rather not waste any more words on her. And I certainly won’t be including any pictures.


Momo captures every parent’s worst fear about the internet, so the story has understandably caught fire online, but she (it?) has not changed anything about YouTube. The reality of the dangers of YouTube are larger than any one threat of questionable veracity.


But I just emerged from under a rock and have no idea what you’re talking about!! What’s Momo?? Pleeaassee??






Ok, that’s all the time I’m giving this subject. Moving on…


It does not matter if Momo is real or a hoax. Well, it matters to YouTube, law enforcement, and filtering companies like us, Clean Router. But for parents, nothing has changed. YouTube is still a microcosm of the internet as a whole: fun, weird, educational, dumb, incredibly useful, dangerous, uplifting, and capable of wasting hours of your family’s time. With that said, there are some specific aspects of YouTube parents need to understand to protect their families.


1) Filtering options exist, but they are not foolproof

Our CleanYouTube is awesome. YouTube Kids is pretty good. Neither are a replacement for parental supervision. Because billions of people can and do add content daily, filters have a hard time keeping up with all the new content. Block YouTube and any alternative your family uses. When your kids access YouTube, insist they do so in a public area of your home with an adult present. Kids think they won’t run into trouble because they are not looking for it; parents may think the same. But the reality is…


2) YouTube has gotten sneakier

Not the company themselves, but the users who upload inappropriate content. Obviously the “Girls Gone Wild” videos are trouble, but seemingly innocent options can have yucky surprises. It’s been well-documented over the past few years that videos of popular cartoon characters like Peppa the Pig and Elsa engaging in disturbing behaviors have flooded YouTube and are even slipping by YouTube Kids’ filters. The thumbnail and title contain no hint of the inappropriate content– there is literally no way to know if the video is ok until it’s too late. Gone are the days when raunchy sidebar videos were the most insidious YouTube threat.


3) Keeping your kids safe on YouTube requires more vigilance than other online content

Because disturbing YouTube content appears out of the clear blue, visiting YouTube is just more risky than accessing other parts of the internet. For parents, this probably means setting stricter rules. As suggested above, blocking YouTube is wise, especially with an option that allows temporary access with a password, like Clean Router. If you normally require kids to use computers and mobile devices in public areas of your home, you may want to require an adult in the room while using YouTube. You might allow some unstructured web surfing, but make your kids tell you exactly what they will be watching on YouTube, then leave the site when their video is finished. If you choose to allow younger children to watch YouTube videos, you should probably be next to them. On YouTube, secrets and privacy should be nonexistent.


Specific internet threats come and go, but the overall danger level of the internet and particularly YouTube stays more or less the same. Even if a scary face is not currently on the front page of Google News, pornography and other disturbing content still exists online, only a few clicks away from your kids. Parents, embrace the cat videos, because if your kids are watching, you should be too.


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Inside gamers’ minds: What violent video games do to your kids

Video games and online gaming have only increased in popularity since the early days of Pong. Unfortunately, not all gaming content has stayed as innocent as ping-pong. Many mainstream games are growing more and more violent. While parents and educators worry about the effect of intimate interaction with violence, albeit artificial violence, gaming apologists have argued the violent games are a victim-less method of blowing off steam.


Researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison wanted to test the cathartic effect of video games, especially violent video games. Half of the study’s 82 participants (all undergraduate students) were asked to play another video game– one designed to be nearly impossible to complete. However, the researchers led the participants to believe they should be able to finish the game in ten minutes. The results matched the title of the game– “Maximum Frustration.” Then, all 82 participants were randomly assigned to play either a violent or a nonviolent video game for about twenty minutes and afterwards record their thoughts in a survey.


The frustrated participants all enjoyed their (second) game more and were motivated to progress further in the game. This progress understandably lessened their frustration and increased their feelings of competency. Interestingly, the frustrated players reported enjoying their game time more than the non-frustrated players. This association held true regardless of video game content.


What about the violence? The key factor seemed to be whether or not the players enjoyed the violent video game. The players rated their enjoyment as “high” were more likely to have a “hostile attribution bias.” This term describes one’s perception of being wronged or inconvenienced. For example, when cut off in heavy traffic, an individual with hostile attribution bias would likely think of the other driver as an inconsiderate jerk. On the other hand, someone without hostile attribution bias may assume the other driver just did not check the car’s mirrors. Unsurprisingly, individuals with hostile attribution bias are more likely to respond with hostility and/or aggression.


The researchers concluded video games may help some blow off steam, but violent video games can significantly impact the way we perceive others. Furthermore, believing that everyone is “out to get me” will encourage a victim mentality which is still more harmful.


Some of the study’s findings may be due to personality differences. Because the hostile attribution bias only increased in individuals who said they enjoyed playing the violent video game, these individuals may be predisposed to aggression and therefore were more likely to perceive others as hostile and find satisfaction in aggressive acts. However, chronic exposure to violent video games could exacerbate or encourage violent tendencies in individuals with these tendencies.


The study corroborates other media research in a significant way: content matters. Whether in screen time for toddlers, social media use among teens, and the effect of violent video games, the quality and content of the media determines the effect on the users. Parents must realize that screen time is not created equal and teach kids to be critical consumers.



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Violent Media Affects Verbal Skills, Study Suggests

If you have been following our blog recently, you know that violent media has been linked to decreased memory and attention and weaker academic performance. As if this wasn’t bad enough, a new study suggests that violent media hurts verbal skills as well.


A study published just three months ago analyzed the performance of 74 children qualified as academically gifted, and 80 children other randomly selected children. All children completed a verbal task before and after viewing a cartoon. Some of the children watched a violent cartoon, and the rest of the children viewed non-violent cartoon. The researchers found that the gifted children who watched the violent media outperformed the other children on the verbal task before cartoon, but not afterward. The violent cartoon had affected their verbal skills, and not for the better.


While this particular article focuses on gifted children, it adds to the growing body of literature that shows violent media negatively impacts the brains of children and teens. Violence grabs our attention for safety reasons, but viewing violent media serves no constructive purpose. While some media is simply a waste of time, violent content hurts kids surpasses the opportunity cost of an unproductive afternoon and poisons other areas of life. A video game or popular television show is simply not worth it.


To read the original study, click here!


Clean Router offers a convenient way to block violent media and pornography from your home. Our router is easy to set up, completely customizable, and puts layers of protection between the scum of the internet and your family.

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internet use affects teen grades

Violent and Sexual Media Hurts Academic Performance, Study Suggests

Can watching pornography or violent media hurt teens’ grades? A recent study says yes!


The researchers examined the grades and test scores of over 1500 Turkish teen boys and found a negative correlation between academic performance and viewing sexual or violent media. The connection held true even after controlling for total amount of screen time (violent/sexual and nonviolent/nonsexual), which means that this is not just a case of too much screen time and too little studying. The researchers also found that the boys’ foreign language performance was particularly effected by the violent or sexual media. This indicating that this type of content may adversely affect attention and memory, both critical skills in foreign language learning.


You can read the original study here.


The more scientists study kids’ brains and screen time, the more we learn the quality of the media kids consume matters just as much as quantity. Violent and sexual media is readily accessible to any kid with an internet connection, and it will impact that kid’s familial, academic, and professional future. Parents must teach kids to choose their media with caution and wisdom, and set up safeguards in the meantime.


Clean Router allows parents to block all pornography and violent content from their home with a customizable multilayered filtering system. Just one router works for all devices and adapts to a growing family’s needs!


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Violent and Sexual Media Hurts Memory and Attention, Study Says

The link between violent media and aggression is well-known, as are the risks of viewing sexual media. However, a recent study suggests that viewing violent and sexual media also has other cognitive effects, including decreased attention and memory.


Two separate trials were conducted– one to measure the effects of viewing violent media, and one to measure the effects of viewing sexual media. The study also contained a control group with participants who watched a video containing no sex or violence. Each participant completed a foreign language test before watching a video, shortly after watching a video, and a week later. The researchers found that, while there were no significant differences between the groups’ performances on the pretest, the groups watched a video that contained violent OR sexual content scored lower than the control group on the tests on both the test given immediately afterward and the test given a week later.


The researchers specifically chose a foreign language test because of the critical importance of both attention and memory in learning and speaking a foreign language. So, when the participants who had viewed violent or sexual media scored lower on this test, they concluded that the participants’ attention and memory had decreased. You can read the study here.


This study suggests that pornography and violent media is not just a moral or family issue. This is a cognitive issue! While no parent wants to be the spoilsport, no amount of entertainment is worth compromising children’s brains.


That’s why Clean Router blocks both online pornography AND violent content. Furthermore, we let you decide just what is appropriate for your family, with options to block entire categories like guns and weapons, drugs, and naturism or to control access specific websites. You can even turn up or down the overall filter levels at any time! With Clean Router, online peace of mind is not only possible but convenient.


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