Computer-generated versions of your child’s favourite Disney and Marvel characters may be crossing the line into dark territory, writes Marchelle Abrahams.
At first it looks harmless enough. Computer-generated versions of your child’s favourite Disney and Marvel characters flash on-screen.
Then things start to get weird. Frozen’s Elsa is injected with a giant syringe and a battle ensues, with cheesy background music.
This is on a YouTube channel meant to teach children educational things like colours and counting.
Battle vs Death Battle has more than 825000 subscribers, the majority of them minors. Most of their videos are baffling.
Mashable’s Brian Koerber said children were often exposed to creepy, weird and violent clips on YouTube, even though parents thought their children were safe visiting a child-friendly website or app.
Find a way around Google’s powerful algorithm and you can hack the system, he said.
“You can upload whatever clip you want, with the right keywords, and your inappropriate content can land in front of kids’ faces,” said Koerber.
For example, the video is titled “Learn Colors Pacman Wrong Heads Finger Family Nursery Rhymes Fun Superheroes Wrong Heads Cartoons”. It may sound like a mouthful, but they are all popular keywords - which you and your children use to search for fun, educational content.
What you don’t bargain for is smart tactics that trick your kids into watching inappropriate content.
It all comes down to hacking Google’s algorithm which ranks websites to deliver results you want.
What parents can do:
- Be mindful of what your children are watching online, even on YouTube Kids app.
- Set up a family account to keep abreast of the kind of content your children are watching.
- YouTube has a function that blocks most objectionable content.
- Lock the safety mode on your browser.
- Create playlists, for a foolproof way of selecting what you want your children to watch.
- Put age restrictions on videos when uploading them.
- Turn YouTube’s comments section off - internet trolls often post dark, aggressive comments and you don’t want your children exposed to them.