Trolls trick kids into watching disturbing YouTube videos
If you ever let your child watch YouTube videos, we've got a warning for you. Some people are creating disturbing cartoons, making them appear kid-friendly, only to get your children to watch inappropriate content. Consumer expert Amy Davis has the details you need to know.
Search the words "Doc McStuffins," "nursery rhymes" or "Disney" on YouTube, and thousands of videos pop up. Some of them are not what you think they are.
We stumbled upon one that appears to be Doc McStuffins, but several minutes into the cartoon, a man injects a pumpkin with something in a syringe and leaves it on a doorstep.
A girl opens the door, brings in the pumpkin, cuts it open and eats some. She instantly turns into a scary zombie.
Caroline Knorr from Common Sense Media says there's a name for these kinds of videos.
"YouTube Poop," Knorr told Davis via Skype. "That's p-o-o-p because they're just kind of crap."
Knorr says the videos usually don't make sense; but the creator tags them with words kids or their parents commonly search to trick people into watching them.
"They are created by online trolls, just for the purpose of shocking or disturbing people," Knorr explained.
If you stumble across videos you think are inappropriate, Knorr says you should flag or report them to YouTube. You can do that by clicking the three dots at the bottom of any video and then clicking "report."
You can also put your YouTube app in "restricted mode." You'll see the option at the bottom of every page.
Restricted mode hides videos that may contain inappropriate content flagged by other users.
Anytime you're searching for a video for your child to watch, make sure you recognize the creator, like Disney or PBS Kids.
The disturbing Doc McStuffins videos we found were created by a user called "Smile Kids TV," but it's clear, the content is not appropriate for most small children.
"They may just be a video that looks like it's intended for kids, and then it goes horrible at about the three-minute mark and kids are like crying and super disturbed," Knorr said.
On your tablet or phone, you can download "YouTube Kids," where YouTube tries to curate content only appropriate for kids in the age range you provide.
Even that is not fool proof. YouTube has removed some of the videos that other parents have red-flagged, but Knorr says the creators just re-upload them within a few hours.
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