As parents increasingly question the effects technology has on their children's health and well-being, many are alarmed by the slew of reports coming out about malicious content on YouTube targeting children as young as two years old.
In recent months parents and psychotherapists have reported that perpetrators have manipulated content from well-known beloved children's franchises, such as Entertainment One's Peppa Pig, Nickelodeon's PAW Patrol and Disney's Frozen and Mickey Mouse, and inserted inappropriate and disturbing content involving popular characters.
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According to medical experts, this content has an adverse effect on the developing brain. "Children who repeatedly experience stressful and/or fearful emotions may underdevelop parts of their brain's prefrontal cortex and frontal lobe, the parts of the brain responsible for executive functions, like making conscious choices and planning ahead, said Donna Volpitta, Ed.D., founder of The Center for Resilient Leadership."
What's worse, some of this content is filtering down into YouTube Kids, an app launched by Google in 2015 that has 11 million viewers and is supposed to contain only child-friendly content. These offending videos are only a fraction of YouTube's kid-friendly universe, yet they are another example of the potential for abuse on digital platforms that rely on algorithms to police content — and the latest in a string of reports that reveal the dark side of technology on young minds.