Parents in the UAE want controls in place for YouTube videos
ABU DHABI // Parents have expressed alarm at what is available on streaming channels such as YouTube, admitting they do not know how to control what their children view online.
Many channels use children’s characters such as Anna and Elsa from Disney’s Frozen, Spider-Man and the Minions from the Despicable Me movies.
But videos by amateur animators have adult content clearly inappropriate for children.
“My two-year-old daughter watches videos on YouTube for one or two hours a day, although not continuously,” said Diya Ayu.
“She used to choose the videos but then I noticed some of them showed people eating candy from the toilet, holding a bloody knife, actions like kidnapping, rape, becoming pregnant, beating and killing animals – it’s all way too inappropriate for children to watch.
“Since then, I watch videos with her and change them immediately if something inappropriate comes up. Even if I choose ‘not interested’ many show up because there is no option to block it. That makes me very angry.
“These videos will have a major effect on children whose parents do not supervise what they watch. They may follow the behaviour in the videos.”
Ms Ayu now sits with her girl to monitor what she sees.
One such channel named BeepBeep TV hosts a clip called Frozen Elsa Spiderman Baby Seduced and Kidnapped by Joker.
Another is named Frozen Elsa’s Dress is Missing. The two have more than a million views.
Saheeb Hussain has two daughters, aged 2 and 4, and he remotely monitors what they are watching from work.
“Unlike back home in the UK, children here do not have access to conventional TV channels,” Mr Hussain said. “Subscribing to channels like Disney and Nickelodeon is expensive.
“So children turn to YouTube to watch their cartoons. I once saw a video my daughters were watching of Anna and Elsa prank calling people and sometimes these videos have bad language.
“If you search for a video with inappropriate content it will not show up, but add Frozen or a child-friendly character and it comes right up. Some of the stuff is shocking and sadly no filters work.”
Tougher screening is not the only answer to the problem, he said.
“We need children to learn about computer misuse and safeguarding themselves from content as a part of their school curriculum,” Mr Hussain said. “We as parents do our part but teachers should also educate children on what is appropriate and what is not.”
A comprehensive approach among schoolchildren is crucial in tackling the problem, an online safety expert said.
“A child can easily access mature content on the web,” said Mohamed Mustafa, chief operations officer at Emirates Safer Internet Society.
“No matter what filter or blocking you do children can access it. Young kids are now tech gurus.
“If YouTube has an abundance of mature content and you block it, there are thousands of other video streaming websites children can still access. It all boils down to building self-resilience.
“Kids must know there is harmful content out the web and how to stay away from it. A major part of this is the responsibility of educational institutions. They need to get involved.
“Parents come from different cultures and backgrounds, so what may be inappropriate for some may not be for others.”
Updated: April 15, 2017 04:00 AM