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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