Something is Wrong on the Internet by James Bridle, is possibly the most disturbing article I have read in a while.
However, if you have children who routinely watch videos on phones or other screens, I strongly urge you to check it out. Bridle explains how an innocent video clip of a children’s song can morph into something rather disturbing. Click here, or on the picture above, to see a rather distressing example.
The process involves key words, algorithms, bots, trolls, and ads to create videos that start with something fairly wholesome like Peppa the Pig and lead a child to rather disturbing video fare. For instance, Peppa's visit to the dentist becomes a story of dental torture and crying children,
To briefly summarize the article here are 5 warnings about kiddie content on the internet (esp. YouTube):
1. Even “good” videos are grouped together to create an hour’s worth of content. This just encourages more screen time.
2. Much of what is out there is not educational and probably not even entertaining. Videos of someone unwrapping surprise eggs may mesmerize children but they are little more than ads or fuel for other ads.
3. Children are exposed to many more ads then they would see on a typical television show and they are especially susceptible to ads. Constant advertising not only creates a fake “need” for an item it can also promote depression when children are left feeling a constant need for that next thing that will make them happy.
4. When algorithms find popular songs and topics they get grouped together in order to create more clicks. These combinations can be used to create parodies, purposely gross, or even obscene material that is not appropriate for the original audience. These videos will come up with the relatively harmless ones and are easy for a child to click.
5. Children should NOT be watching or playing with any screen without parent supervision.
Screen technology is changing our world and doing many wonderful things, but we have so much to learn about what harm it might do to children or to parenting healthy families. Furthermore, producers of this material do not, in any way, have the best interests of our children at heart. Use screens wisely and don’t let them come between you and a good conversation or activity you could be having with your children.