I think most of us understand, at least on some level, that technology can harm our health and well-being, and that constant exposure to it, especially for children, is not a good thing. Yet, for a variety of reasons, parents still use technology to babysit their children.
But the physical effects are mounting, and in 2016 we wrote an article that explores the harmful effects of WiFi, cell phones, iPads, and more specifically in relation to children: “In 2011 the World Health Organization (WHO) admitted that cell phone radiation may cause cancer. The statement was based off of a cumulative decision made by a team of 31 scientists, from 14 different countries, after reviewing evidence that suggested this to be the case.”
But what about the psychological effects?
I wrote an article about why you should let your child be bored and I highlight a specific study conducted by Dr. Teresa Belton. She studied the effects that television has on the imagination of children aged 10-12, ultimately concluding that television negatively impacts their development:
The ubiquity and ease of access to television and videos perhaps robs today’s children of the need to pursue their own thoughts and devise their own occupations, distracting them from inner processes and constantly demanding responses to external agendas, and suggests that this may have implications for the development of imaginative capacity.
This study was conducted in 1990, before the internet blew up to be what it is today. Would it then be safe to assume that the effects could be similar? Maybe even worse?
When a child doesn’t exercise their ability to fill their mind with wondrous imaginings, they are susceptible to the internet filling it for them.
Film and television provoke our emotions, sometimes in fantastic ways. They can promote love and connection with our fellow human beings, and in some cases, can even provide a positive perspective on the world. The flip side is that the same can be said for negative, low-vibe emotions, thanks to things like fear-mongering news, or ads that take advantage of our insecurities. Don’t believe that we aren’t highly affected by these visuals? If we weren’t, companies would not pay up to 5 million dollars to run a 30 second advertisement during the Super Bowl, or 2.1 million dollars for the same amount of time during the Oscars.
For anyone with children, you know that they are like sponges, so allow yourself for a moment to comprehend the impact that the internet has on a child’s behaviour, social understanding, and perspective.
BBC Trending exposed how some YouTube channels have ripped off beloved characters like Peppa Pig and Thomas the Tank Engine, essentially tricking children into watching disturbing content.
Vigilant Citizen recently compiled a number of images from YouTube videos that stimulate fear and sexual emotions in children.
These videos would most likely leave a child mildly traumatized and extremely uncomfortable, as they exploit their deepest fears, featuring “blood, syringes, cutting skin, tarantulas, evil clowns attacking them, etc.” (There will be no visual link for the screenshots below so as to not generate more hits to these channels, which already generate millions of views.)
As Vigilant puts it, “A great number of videos revolve around the theme of cutting open the stomach and extracting all kinds of weird and horrible things. In this video, a scalpel cuts open this bear’s stomach and a big ugly worm pops out.” “In this video, a ‘nurse’ cuts open a small girl’s stomach and takes out all kinds of scary objects such as a huge kitchen knife.”
“Here, someone dressed as the Joker threatens to throw a baby down the toilet. A great way to start potty training.”“A giant tarantula crawling on a girl sleeping with a pacifier.” “In this video, creepy fake babies end up covered with spiders and cockroaches.” Why does this exist?
“In this video, a bear poops all over his entire family. He then ends up stuck in the washing machine as family members drop their dirty clothes inside of it. All the while, a horrible rendition of the ‘Daddy Finger’ song plays in the background. So many videos feature that song – as if something about it captures children’s attention.”
The next few shots are even more disturbing, as they reenact sexual positions that also involve well-known characters.
“Spiderman grabs Elsa’s breasts for a very long time. Hulk and a bunch of other dudes are watching in the background.”This video is insinuating exactly what you think.
“This entire video features Elsa and Spiderman in all kinds of … positions.”
In addition to these videos that children can easily stumble upon, they are directed even further thanks to these recommended videos. Take a look at the viewer count.
I’ve also often questioned the obsession children have with Slime videos. I once waited for my mechanic for 20 minutes and his three children were engrossed in slime videos, one after another, until their mother came to pick them up.
How to Protect Your Kids
- Download the YouTube Kids app. This app filters out most inappropriate videos, but not all, so it’s important to still be watchful.
- Create your own YouTube account for your family. When asked your age, mark under 18, otherwise you’ll have access to all the videos, including the inappropriate ones.
- Enable Restricted Mode. Be sure to turn it on for each browser you use. If your browser supports multiple profiles, you must enable it for each profile. If you want Restricted Mode to stay enabled for anyone using this browser, you can lock it in place.
- Monitor your child’s use. Set designated times for your child to use their phone or iPad and when it’s not in use, put it in a place only you know about. Cris Logan of Enough is Enough also recommends staying close while they peruse: “We know that 79% of a child’s access to inappropriate content occurs right through the home. If a parent is doing their job with regard to parental control and filters, the likelihood of their child accidentally coming across pornographic material will be significantly reduced.”
- Covenant Eyes also reported that “Malicious users have been known to post blatantly pornographic video content on YouTube, pairing it with video clips of children’s programming. Children click on these videos and watch several minutes of what appears to be a benign program, only to have the video content suddenly switch to adults having sexual intercourse.”
- Flag videos. When you are signed into your account you will noticed that beneath each video on YouTube are three dots that you can click on and ‘Report’ comes up. Use this and teach your children to use it if either of you deem content inappropriate. Also check out the Community Guidelines together.
- Surf the web like you think your child might. Cris Logan recommends parents see what the online culture is like, “and be ready to have an open dialogue—an ongoing dialogue—with your child regarding what they’re seeing, what they’re doing with this site.” Make sure you can let your child know that they will always have a safe space with you in sharing their feelings. It’s important that they don’t feel embarrassed or ashamed for coming across something that’s inappropriate, and that they can feel confident to share this with you.
- Have fun! While YouTube can hold some questionable content, it’s important to focus on all the great tools and entertainment it can offer. You can also create a Playlist that is a compilation of your favourite videos for you and your family to enjoy. Further, you can subscribe to accounts that you know and trust. This can be an enjoyable time spent better understanding each other!
At the end of the day it’s all about being vigilant with what you allow your child to be exposed to. It’s important to allow them to have freedom, but also to set a foundation for them; give them the opportunity to decipher what content will be educative and what will not.
You and your family may also be interested in these toy alternatives in our article “Learning Tools That Teach Children Mindfulness & Valuable Skills.” If you’d like to learn more ways about how you can protect your family against EMFs, please read “This Is What WIFI, Cell Phones, iPads & More Are Doing To Your Child’s Brain.”
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