As times have changed, so have viewing habits -- especially with the younger generation. TV time has become Internet time. Hand-held devices are quickly replacing TV screens. Even for little ones, "Saturday Morning Cartoons" has turned into anytime cartoons in the palm of their tiny hands. And as if parents don't already have enough to worry about these days, it turns out not all those innocent looking online kid's cartoons are actually all that innocent.
Credit: YouTube screenshots
Internet time is no different than TV time. It's up to parents to limit just how much time their children spend online -- whether it be through the computer, smart phones, tablets or any other device. But they also need to be extremely mindful of what their child is watching online.
YouTube is one of the most popular places to find videos. Naturally, much of the content on there isn't appropriate for children. That's why many parents use the safer alternative of the YouTube Kids app. But even that isn't completely foolproof.
Unfortunately, plenty of sketchy people realize that kids are naturally drawn to their favorite characters and cartoons. Show them an image of Mickey and Minnie Mouse, and they're going to click. The problem is YouTube is filled with videos that, at first glance, look just like another online kid's cartoon. But they actually contain adult themes, not suitable for children at all!
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Mom Laura June recently shared a story of how her young daughter stumbled upon just one of those videos.
Whenever Laura lets her 3-year-old daughter watch videos on her iPad, she's sure to keep a close eye. Like lots of kids, Laura's daughter loves Peppa Pig -- a British cartoon about a pink pig named Peppa and her family aimed at the preschool audience.
Laura's daughter clicked on what looked to be just another clip from the popular kid's show. But it took no time for this careful mom to realize this was in no way a safe online kid's show!
"Within a few seconds of my daughter pressing play on a video that sounded unlike any Peppa Pig I had ever heard, I went over and pulled the iPad away from her. 'It’s Peppa! I love dis video!' she whined as I looked at it," Laura recalled. "It was obvious that whatever video she’d stumbled on, it definitely wasn’t the Peppa we knew. After hours of hearing the show’s bubbly British cast, you can spot it a mile — or a metre — away. And what I was hearing was… some off-brand Peppa."
In this particular video, Peppa went to the dentist where she was tortured with giant needles and all kinds of scary tools. Laura says it was terrifying. And searching showed their were plenty more like it.
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Not All Kid's Videos Are Created Equal
This kind of bait and switch is not just limited to Peppa. Look for just about any popular kid's character -- from Doc McStuffins, to Mickey Mouse to Elsa from Frozen -- and you'll find hundreds of faux online kid's cartoons containing adult themes.
There's even a popular YouTube channel called "Toys and Funny Kids Surprise Eggs." Sounds innocent, right? Go to the channel's homepage and you'd be inclined to believe it was designed specifically for children. The landing page features a picture of a toddler, along with plenty of popular cartoon characters.
Credit: YouTube screenshot
But start scrolling through the videos and you'll quickly realize there's nothing kid-friendly about this channel at all. You'll find titles like "Hulk Loses His Pants" and "Sexy Frozen Elsa Bath Time." And there are plenty of other equally disturbing videos disguised as online kid's cartoons out there from loads of other users.
Sometimes there are cartoon parodies created as jokes for adults. But what's disturbing is that many of these videos were designed to specifically fool children (and adults) into thinking they're safe. The whole purpose of these videos is to trick and then terrify our kids.
While YouTube Kids is set up to help provide suitable content for children, the trouble is it's done so in an automated fashion. So, videos just like the nightmarish version of Peppa Pig can slip through these filters.
So, the lesson is to never just take things at face value, especially when it comes to our kids. Any online use by children should be closely and consistently monitored, regardless of whether or not it's done through a kid's app. As parents, it's our job to protect our kids so we should never just assume something is safe.
Please be sure to share this story with anyone with kids or grandkids, to be sure they're aware of the dangerous online kid's cartoons lurking out there!
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