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YouTube rising in prominence, be aware of the dangers for children

YouTube has fast replaced TV in the lives of teens today, with over 400 hours of content uploaded every minute. Ensuring your children are watching appropriate videos is not an easy task, as both algorithms and YouTube staff are frantically trying to keep up. They say knowledge is power, and this couldn’t be truer when it comes to helping keep our kids stay safe online. Knowing how YouTube works as well as which particular channel or YouTube ‘star’ your children are subscribing to are two important ways to stay on the ball. At Perimeter Guardian, we are committed to helping you do just that.

Did you know?

  • YouTube’s age restriction policy states that while there are guidelines around content, it is ultimately up to the community of YouTube users to play by the “spirit of the rules” and to use good judgement in terms of what is uploaded and viewed
  • There are two ways for content to be classified as age-restricted: YouTube can review content after it has been reported and deem it inappropriate for those under 18 years of age, or the uploader can age-restrict their own videos. In any case, restricted content is unable to be monetised or used for ads (and that’s significant!)
  • According to its policy, YouTube restricts content based on factors such as vulgar language, violence, sexually explicit content and harmful or dangerous practices
  • Given there aren’t nearly enough staff to help filter out inappropriate content, YouTube also relies on algorithms designed to pick up various “red flags”. However, there are countless methods available that effectively circumvent such encryptions, rendering them useless in many cases. In other words, human ingenuity trumps computer codes when it comes to the content that is able to slip through the cracks!

While in theory the YouTube content policy guidelines sound reasonable, it remains very difficult in practice to monitor content due to the vast number of YouTube users and the frequency with which videos are uploaded. There is also the issue of subjectivity when it comes to judging what is and isn’t appropriate. For instance, what is vulgar language to one, is mild to another. Or what YouTube deems “sexually explicit” may be considered overtly pornographic to someone else. The point is, while the guidelines can help, ultimately, we need to be the judge of what our kids are getting access to online and whether it is truly appropriate for them.

How does YouTube restrict access to those who are under 18 years of age? Let’s be real; YouTube can’t possibly know the age of its viewers, nor does it pretend to. When you sign up for a YouTube account, you are asked to enter your date of birth, and so YouTube relies on this information only to ascertain your age. However, if your children are using your account, then they have access to all the adult content as well. One of the most effective means of addressing this is to set up a Family Sharing function (for Apple) and then modify the restrictions accordingly. Android has a similar function. While these are all good measures, nothing is foolproof when it comes to online filters and content guidelines. Staying informed with up to date and relevant information is your best bet when it comes to helping your children stay safe online. Watch this space as Perimeter Guardian reviews some of the most popular YouTubers in our upcoming blogs!

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