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MANN: Creepy videos on YouTube aimed at children

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December 07, 2017 - 12:30 PM

 


OPINION


My daughter loves watching YouTube videos. She loves to sing, and YouTube has a plethora of songs for her to watch and learn. I am now unfortunately well-versed in The Finger Family and Three Little Kittens. (Why kittens are wearing mittens and eating pie escapes me.)

Regardless, those videos have become a lifesaver for me when I am doing dishes or just need a minute to collect my thoughts. No she isn’t allowed to sit there all day and stare at the screen, but I am pretty sure 20 minutes of entertainment won’t kill her.

Of course I know YouTube is filled with some questionable content — things I wouldn’t want my precious little angel to view, but as long as she sticks with videos geared to her age group, things should be fine right?

Turns out maybe not so much.

Up until a few days ago I had never heard of Elsagate…which is strange considering it has been a ‘thing’ since 2016.

Imagine your child is watching Itsy Bitsy Spider on YouTube, and then is suddenly viewing disturbing content they never set out to find.

It’s happening.

Despite the fact YouTube has standards in place, categorizing what is deemed appropriate for children, users are circumventing the inbuilt child safety algorithms and children are watching their beloved favourites (such as Paw Patrol characters and Peppa Pig) being brutalized or committing acts of violence.

I myself haven't watched any of the videos and I hope my daughter hasn’t either.

Apparently a number of the videos feature the character Elsa (from Disney’s Frozen phenomenon) — hence Elsagate.

I assume the people behind these controversial videos do not have the rights to use these famous characters in any manner, let alone perversely.

So what is being done and why are people making these videos?

As far as the why, I suspect we may never know. I can imagine that with all the hits, the creators are making themselves a fair bit of money. After reading this column, how many more people will go searching for Elsa and Spiderman just to see what all the fuss is about? 

I just don’t get it. Are they intentionally trying to disturb our children or do they really just think it is a big, funny joke?

But people are outraged. They have headed to social media and after searching #Elsagate, it is clear there is mass concern.

The powers that be at YouTube are stepping up their game to combat the infiltrating filth appearing on screens everywhere. Numerous channels have been shut down and more manpower is being applied to review videos.

But I have to admit that I’ve lost some confidence in the system and in myself. I, like many others have become too comfortable and too trusting that certain platforms are totally safe.

When my daughter wants to watch Old MacDonald and learn her animals, I want to make sure Old MacDonald doesn’t suddenly turn on his animals.

Maybe for the time being we will stick to Sesame Street.

— Becky Mann is a 30-something, red haired, mother of two, trying to navigate this life as best she can. She enjoys talking to people and discovering their stories. Still trying to balance her personal and professional life, she juggles work and play. In her spare time Becky can be found visiting with friends, spending time with her family and saving time by reading while walking. She knows there is so much more to come and is looking forward to the continued adventure.


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