YouTube Kids: Failing to Keep Kids Safe from Child Exploitation

Recently updated on November 25th, 2023 at 05:51 pm

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Update August 2019:

Youtube has agreed to end targeted advertisement targeted towards children. The Federal Trade Commission is looking into whether YouTube breached the Children’s Online Privacy Act (COPPA).”  Bloomberg News

Youtube keeps insisting that its primary site is not for children. Parents should utilize Youtube For Kids. Despite making that statement numerous times, cartoon videos on the main site keep getting millions of views.

Related : Here is how you can keep your kids safe on Youtube

Child Exploitation on Youtube Kids Videos

Youtube is under fire after a Youtuber called Matt Watson exposed how the platform is used to bolster child exploitation.

Matt found videos of kids where people are commenting inappropriately and time stamping the videos where kids are looking “exposed”. He describes this as  “soft-core pedophilia ring” operating on Youtube.

There are even advertisements on these videos and Youtube is getting monetary gains.

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How does it work

To replicate what Matt found, Tech Crunch team created a new Youtube account to test this out. This is how it works:

  • Create a new Youtube account
  • Type in words like ‘bikini haul’
  • After clicking on a few videos of adults in a bikini, the search bar on the right-hand side will suggest teen bikini videos
  • Following that all the recommended video suggestion that comes up will be of young girls in gymnastic poses, eating popsicles or licking lollipops. Innocent kids videos exploited by online predators.

Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old

Matt explaining how the whole things work and his findings.

Warning- there are disturbing content in the attached video

YouTube player

Why parents should be worried

Parents or young girls might upload their gymnastic videos or play in a pool video just for fun. However, pedophiles are time stamping the videos where the girls are exposed or may be in compromising positions.

Youtube users or pedophiles are posting inappropriate comments on those videos.  And Youtube is doing nothing to flag those comments, in fact, their algorithm suggests users to watch those videos.

Some videos even have sexually suggestive comments about the kids on the videos.

Matt stated that he found ads being displayed on some of kids videos that contains inappropriate comments. He also claims that link to pornography is also found in the comment section on some of the children’s videos.

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What Youtube is doing about this

Tech Crunch questioned Youtube as to why its algorithm is recommending minors when people are searching for adult videos. Also, why inappropriate comments remains a problem in its platform

This is the response they received from Youtube :

“Any content — including comments — that endangers minors is abhorrent and we have clear policies prohibiting this on YouTube. We enforce these policies aggressively, reporting it to the relevant authorities, removing it from our platform and terminating accounts”

Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old

The spokesperson for Youtube said that it currently has 10,000 human working on content moderation on its platform. However, that is not enough since Youtube receives 400 hours of video every minute.

Basically, this suggests that Youtube is not doing enough to protect users on its platform.

Hence, it is our job as parents to protect kids who are using Youtube or uploading content on this platform.

How to keep your kid’s Youtube videos safe

1.Register using a parent email address

If your child is below 13 years old they have to sign up to Youtube using parent’s email address. Consider keeping their channel using your email address so you can receive notifications on comments made on your child’s videos.

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2. Do not use your child’s real name

For privacy reasons, come up with a fictitious

3. Monitor videos

Get your kids into the habit of showing you the videos before it is being published. Before your child publishes the videos, check out the videos and see what they are doing in it. Make sure you are comfortable for other people to video the video.

4. Turn off comments.

The comment section on Youtube can be quite nasty. It can lead to trolling, cyberbullying and in worst cases sexual exploitation.

Disable comments completely to avoid these problems.

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6. Change settings to private or unlisted.

There are 3 settings you can choose on Youtube:

  • Public is the default setting and that means anyone can view your child’s video.
  • Private means only those invited to view the video can see it (they must have their own YouTube accounts). Only those on the list can view your child’s video and the video cannot be searched and will not appear on your channel lists. 
  • Unlisted means your video will not come up in search results or on your channel either. In this mode, only those who know the link can view it, and you can share the link with anyone, even those who do not have a YouTube account/username. But your child needs to be careful with who they share the link since the video could still be seen by anyone with the link!

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Social media companies are failing at keeping kids safe online. It is up to us parents to guide them and teach them about online safety. Use parental controls and have a regular conversation with your kids about internet safety so they can exploit technology and reap the advantages of it while being safe online.


Here are tips to you keep children safe in the digital age : 

Tips for Non-Tech Savy Mums :4 tips to digital parenting for non-tech savy mums

Stop kids from being datafied : Are your children datafied from birth

3 dangerous places for children to be online : 3 places kids should have limited internet access

Finally don’t forget click below:  

Children’s online safety book- teach them about internet safety from a young age. For 3 -10 years old


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Parven founded Kids N Clicks after obtaining her MSc in Corporate Governance from the London School of Economics. She worked as a business studies and digital marketing lecturer. Internet Matters recognizes her profound knowledge of online safety, dubbing her an Internet safety expert. At Kids N Clicks, Parven keeps abreast of the newest apps. Drawing from her teaching background, she fervently promotes screen-free activities for students and encourages introspective thinking through journaling, games and writing prompts.

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