Children can be as little as three clicks away from inappropriate or adult content on YouTube, whilst watching their favourite shows such as Peppa Pig and Rastamouse, warns Kaspersky Lab on Safer Internet Day (SID).
SID aims to highlight the rights and responsibilities of young people online and educate them on the need to discover the digital world safely.
Examining YouTube’s ‘suggested’ videos which sit visibly alongside clips or episodes of popular children’s television programmes such as Peppa Pig, Rastamouse and Dora the Explorer, researchers found that, on average, users are just three clicks away from content better suited to a more mature audience.
Music videos featuring violence, guns and nudity, clips of post watershed television programmes and car crash compilations are some examples of the inappropriate content just a few clicks away on the video sharing website. These results highlight the potential risks such sites pose if parental controls are not activated or children are left unattended while browsing.
Angela Woodward, a mother of two young boys said: “As the parent of a five-year-old boy with a keen interest in Fireman Sam and Power Rangers, this is an issue I’m really concerned about.
“Although I’m careful to monitor Sam’s activity when he goes online, in the past he’s been able to click through to things that aren’t suitable for his age. Now that he’s at school and his spelling and writing are getting better I’m afraid this problem will only get worse.”
The research by Kaspersky Lab showed that Rastamouse videos on Youtube are just two clicks away from a music video featuring swearing and guns; Fireman Sam videos are two clicks away from episode of London’s Burning; Lazy Town footage is just two clicks away from Supersize Me documentary; whilst Sesame Street is two clicks away from a video of a woman giving birth; Peppa Pig four clicks away from a car crash compilation and Dora the Explorer videos just four clicks away from music videos featuring swearing and nudity.
With technology being such an everyday commodity, kids are becoming more and more tech-savvy about the internet and exploring its contents. Video content sites such as YouTube are deliberately intuitive which makes their content easily accessible, but does not always display content suitable for children’s eyes.
David Emm, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, said: “It’s worrying to see just how simple it is for children to access videos of an adult nature on YouTube. With younger generations becoming more IT literate and parents increasingly turning to mobile devices, online games and apps as a means of entertaining their kids, these results highlight the importance of taking steps to protect them online."
“Safer Internet Day is all about educating and promoting safer, more responsible behaviour for young people, but adults must take responsibility too. Having parental controls in place is vital and can be highly effective in combatting objectionable material. YouTube’s Safety Mode feature aims to help parents screen out unsuitable content, but it can’t provide 100% protection.”
David’s tips for protecting your family online:
1. Supervision: This may seem obvious, but supervise your child’s internet use. Encourage them to visit and stay on websites you’re familiar with. If you have any concerns you can look at their browsing history. Be sure to know about any password protected sites they may be accessing and ask them to share their login details with you.
2. Be open: Encourage your child to be open about what they are doing online and who they are socialising with. Promote a culture of safety within the home and talk about the possible dangers which exist.
3. Protect your family: Use parental control on sites you don’t want your child looking at as part of your online security product – it’s an easy way to avoid disaster.
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