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    • Someone has been uploading seemingly kid-friendly videos to YouTube that contain scenes with instructions for committing suicide.

      The videos were found via YouTube Kids, a special YouTube app that's designed to use a combination of automated filtering, human reviewers, and parental controls to ensure that kids only see kid-safe videos.

      But YouTube admits it's not perfect:

      We use a mix of filters, user feedback and human reviewers to keep the videos in YouTube Kids family friendly. But no system is perfect and inappropriate videos can slip through, so we’re constantly working to improve our safeguards and offer more features to help parents create the right experience for their families.

      Should kids even be on YouTube in the first place? Even adults seem to have trouble avoiding problematic content on YouTube.

      When I was a kid I had pretty unrestricted access to TV, but in those days there were only a handful of channels (and we never had premium cable). Plus, the TV was in the living room where my parents could easily see what I was watching, so there wasn't much danger that I'd see something I shouldn't before they could intervene.

      Obviously things are different now. Kids have their own smartphones and computers, which are much harder for parents to supervise.

      What would you do? If you're a parent, do you let your kids use YouTube unsupervised? Are you worried about what they might see, or do you trust them? Should YouTube be held more responsible for the content they make available via YouTube Kids?

    • I think it's a kind of meta topic that doesn't rely to Youtube only, but rather to the generic problem of filtered/unfiltered reality. The problem existed always, only the medium changed. Radio, books, movies, TV, Internet, specific content delivery channels within Internet.

      My take is that it is unfeasible and indeed impossible to set up and maintain perception filters for other individuals for every occasion (with an interesting side point that specific filters attract additional interest on both sides of the filter - on the one side the forbidden fruit is always sweeter and on the other side there always are people for whom to game the system, for fun or profit, is just the challenge life doesn't give them otherwise).

      For this reason, I prefer to invest my efforts with the kids towards cultivating their mind and cultural sensibilities to be better able to sift inputs by themselves, and also to make our personal relationships as trustful and relaxed as possible, so that if they encounter absolutely anything they do not understand or think questionable or if it triggers any red flag - they can come and talk, guilt-free and blame-free.

      That being said, I do utilize some basic parental controls, technology-wise, but not to filter content beyond some easily available (and not so reliable) automatics such as SafeSearch, etc, but mostly to manage screen time within reasonable bounds.

    • I think about this a lot. My daughter is still young enough at under 2 that we are just beginning to introduce her to that kind of media. Right now it is fairly easy to control when and how she views any kind of content, but it's not going to be that way in a few years.

      I remember being a kid and discovering the internet and finding all kinds of crazy things, some that my parents likely would not have wanted me to find had they known. I think I tend to agree with @mbravo that kids are going to find things, and it's better to give them the tools they need to understand and deal with different situations in life.

      The thing that is hard is that it is so easy to just let your kids watch TV so that you can get a break. There is a limit to how much as a parent you can have energy to police what your kid is doing at any given time.

      The scariest thing about YouTube is that it is basically unregulated, and no one is held accountable. My kid might end up watching garbage shows on cable TV or Netflix that I don't approve of, but given some basic parental controls I'm not really worried about her getting traumatized.