Technology impacted the world in unknown ways. On one hand, it facilitated many tasks and introduced the world to unexplored dimensions. On the other hand, it led to unintended effects on lifestyle and health. YouTube, a video streaming service, enabled people to watch, learn, and spread a message with few clicks. It also became one of the vital platforms to spread violence and entice people to get violent. Though it is upon users to choose the videos to watch and how to spend time on the platform, service providers also have a crucial role to play. Recent research studies show that YouTube has been impacting brain development of children. The ease in exposure to YouTube for children has been possible due to advent of smartphones. This exposure has been affecting mental health of children as malicious content is targeted toward children. Bad actors have been successful in manipulating content and uploading disturbing videos though characters that are popular among children.
Medical experts have been raising concerns about the impact of inappropriate and malicious content on children. They informed parents about the adverse effects of exposure to such videos through YouTube. Children have been suffering from sleeplessness, loss of appetite, crying fits, and fear.
Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., founder of The Center for Resilient Leadership, said, “Children who repeatedly experience stressful and/or fearful emotions may underdevelop parts of their brain’s prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe, the parts of the brain responsible for executive functions, like making conscious choices and planning ahead.”
Offending content through YouTube leads to adverse effects on them. YouTube Kids, app launched by Google in 2015 for child-friendly content, contains some malicious content. Though these videos have not been posted in huge amount, the presence shows the need to employ better filters to weed out such content that can hamper mental health. Though some of the bad actors are still unknown, they have been using the platform to deliberately harm children. Popular channels such as Nickelodeon and Disney have responded by outlining that they have been taking preventive measures to prevent bad actors from uploading content and stop malicious content from reaching children. Moreover, Google has been accepting the flaw and apologizing for the mistake. The firm also stated that more preventive measures need to be taken. It has been difficult for YouTube to filter out 400 hours of video content uploaded every minute on the platform. The firm announced it will hire 10,000 more moderators to filter out malicious content.
YouTube suspended nearly 50 channels and deleted thousands of videos to eliminate harmful content for kids. Moreover, the firm has been implementing machine learning algorithm to block offending content from reaching kids. The staff has been reviewing flagged content for 24 hours a day and seven days a week to identify violation of guidelines. However, the company has not been offered any explanation for how such offending content has been slipping through its filters and for further measures on how it will counter this problem.
Not only YouTube but also other social media companies have been targeted for not being able to filter out malicious content. Apple has been the center of criticism for preventing children from getting addicted to its devices. Some of the employees who helped in building social media platforms have been criticized the companies for creating addictive apps and online platforms.
Google deleted nearly 60 kid-themed apps from its app store after the security firm Check Point informed that those apps trick users into installing fake security apps and display pornographic content. Parents need to ensure kids stay away from such content and get minimum screen time. Spending more time creating and exploring new things would lower the effects.