Published: Wed, February 27, 2019
Medicine | By Daryl Nelson

YouTube videos aimed at kids discovered to include self-harm tips

YouTube videos aimed at kids discovered to include self-harm tips

"So anything that's not curated by the parent, we can not just assume they are not going to be viewing things that are 100 percent safe", said Rogers-Wood.

Ms Andrea Faville, a spokesman for YouTube, said in a written statement that the company works to ensure that it is "not used to encourage unsafe behaviour and we have strict policies that prohibit videos which promote self-harm".

Last year, pediatrician and mother, Free N. Hess, published on her website, Pedimom.com, a post from an anonymous mother who reported a horrifying incident where a YouTube Kids video they were watching was abruptly interrupted by a man in sunglasses who gave instructions on how to harm themselves.

As recently as Sunday, Hess noted on her Facebook page that she recorded a version of the clip "directly from YouTube Kids" that very afternoon.

In the parody video, a second character appears in time to stop the attempted suicide, with the narrator stating: "Why couldn't he just let me hang myself?"

According to the Mirror, he said: "Children can find it hard to stand up to peer pressure but they must know it's perfectly okay to refuse to take part in crazes that make them feel unsafe or scared".

Hess found other videos on YouTube Kids that make light of and glorify suicide, sexual abuse, human trafficking, domestic violence, and shootings.

A fellow mother, a physician, had initially alerted her to the clip on YouTube Kids, saying it had been "intentionally planted on YouTube Kids to harm our children".

'We created YouTube Kids to make it safer and simpler for children to explore the world through online video.

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"Remember, kids, sideways for attention, longways for results", the man in the video says and walks off the screen and the cartoon continues. We've also been investing in new controls for parents including the ability to hand pick videos and channels in the app.

"We are always working to improve our systems and to remove violat [ing] content more quickly".

"Once someone reports it, it's too late because a kid has already seen it", she said.

"I think it's extremely risky for our children", Dr Hess said about the clips on Sunday in a phone interview with The Washington Post.

"There is this disconnect between what kids know about technology and what their parents know because the parents didn't grow up with it", she said.

Usually, kids are left alone with an iPad or a smartphone as they watch cartoons on YouTube or YouTube Kids.

Hess told WFTX she's trying to warn other parents about such videos.

In a tweet, the school said: "We are aware that some nasty challenges (Momo challenge) are hacking into children's programmes".

For confidential support in Australia call the Lifeline 24-hour crisis support on 13 11 14. To learn how to help someone in crisis, call the same number.

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