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Published on March 4th, 2019 | by voxx

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Is YouTube Safe for Children?

There is a reason why my generation has been brought up with a safety program in school to alert us against strangers or child predators, and as annoying as it got, it was important. However, YouTube is a new beast entirely, and like any type of social media platform that connects the entire world to each other, there’s as much capacity for enjoyment as there is a requirement of safety. But why bring this up now?

YouTube as a whole is not currently in a good place, with more advertisers leaving the site, limiting comment systems for demonetisation, paedophile rings circling, and of course an increase in ‘Elsagate’ (children’s content reflecting characters in a cheap and potentially harmful way, named after Frozen star Queen Elsa). I still love and respect lots of the content creators on the site, and most of my entertainment comes from videos like ‘Let’s Plays’ and ‘Top 10s’, but the way YouTube has treated them is another story. They are trying to solve the issues, but there is a lack of communication and incidents like ‘Elsagate’ are on the rise, especially for children who are the main target audience for the platform. One such incident is the Momo Challenge, which is greatly disturbing.

You’ve probably heard about this by now, but if you are unaware, the Momo Challenge is a social media game that encourages children to self-harm or hurt others with graphic images as proof, threatening them with abuse and violence if they do not comply. The challenge has been linked to several suicides and deaths in the past in countries such as Argentina, but now it has spread primarily to adverts on kid-friendly videos. First reported in Ireland and then shared around Facebook, the disturbing image of the game’s avatar has been brought to public attention, and it has reportedly had even more content added, in one case with a video of a little white girl singing about Momo killing you in your sleep.

Children have been said to react with tears streaming down their faces, scarred by the incident. Momo is already scary enough as it is, but the entity also tells children not to tell their parents, otherwise it will kill them, and this is why its circulation has been kept quiet for longer than it should have been.  Though while other social networking sites have raised awareness, the videos themselves as still a hassle and a half to find. Hidden in the middle of random children’s videos, it makes it harder for bots and such to detect them, and thus they are mostly left unnoticed by YouTube admins. What’s worse, YouTube isn’t the exclusive server for hosting the images, and others such as the game Fortnight have fallen host to them too.

If you were unaware of such events, now is the time to pay attention. This kind of thing will continue, so make sure you keep an eye on any children in your care, reassure them, and talk to them about the importance of internet safety.

- By Samuel Wood


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