Do you let your kids browse YouTube unsupervised? A lot of the people who work there don’t. According to a June 17 Bloomberg article, “Four people at [YouTube’s parent company] Google privately admitted that they don’t let their kids watch YouTube unsupervised and said the sentiment was widespread at the company.”
The video platform is trying to become more family friendly. But it’s been supposedly dealing with the issue for at least a decade, and seems to have made no headway. Meanwhile, as the market research firm Insight Strategy Group Told Bloomberg, “Nearly every child in the country uses YouTube.”
The Bloomberg article followed a “digital well-being” summit sponsored by advocacy group Common Sense Media. The meeting conference turned into a “public drubbing of YouTube,” according to Bloomberg.
The video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, is in the news every week for the inane, upsetting or harmful videos involving children. A decade ago, fretful parents worried about video games and slasher films—but today, YouTube incites greater fear. “Now parents say, ‘Bring me the violent movie,’” Jill Murphy, editor-in-chief of Common Sense, said on stage. “It’s better than a Google search box.”
According to The Daily Caller, “A June 3 New York Times article demonstrated that a YouTube algorithm was directing content of children in bathing suits to users who watched other videos of prepubescent kids.” In other words, it was aiding pedophiles. The Daily Caller News Foundation also reported that the comments sections on videos with minors in them were being used to exploit children. Youtube subsequently shut those comments sections down.
As for keeping kids away from inappropriate YouTube content, YouTubers under eighteen are not allowed to access explicit or what YouTube calls flagged content. Although this sounds good in practice, all the user has to do is confirm they are eighteen while providing little to no evidence that he or she is.
The site also has parental controls. This allows parents to filter what their children are seeing on YouTube by means of internet filters, but according to LifeWire, “There are no guarantees that these safeguards will keep mature content from reaching your children's eyes.” LifeWire says, “As a parent, you play the role of internet traffic cop. Unfortunately, the internet is a 50 million lane highway.”
YouTube has also created an app that prevents children from seeing explicit content that Google has made available to the public. YouTube Kids, according to the Daily Caller, is “an app created four years ago that filters videos from the main site specifically for children under thirteen.” In theory, this will allow children a separate platform taylored for them.
YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki said that the company is attempting to eliminate these types of problems, but that there is “a lot of work to do.”
YouTube may be having trouble filtering their explicit content, but it seems it’s pretty adept at filtering out conservative content or, when push comes to shove, any content that might be politically uncomfortable. It seems to be what it’s always been for YouTube and Google: a matter of priorities.