If you have been anywhere near the internet or television you have now heard the new of the disturbing videos made to deliver some scary messages to our kids via YouTube and YouTube Kids. Recently, we have been able to put a name to the recent videos, Momo. And she is terrifying.
The discovery of Momo sent parents rushing to their electronic devices and removing both the YouTube and YouTube Kids apps from just about everything in their home. Along with the removal of the apps Parents also became much more aware of what their children are watching. The idea that people can create videos targeting our kids with instructions to cause harm to themselves and others is terrifying as a parent. This left many parents feeling unsafe about what their kids can come across and wondering what they can do to help prevent things such as Momo from getting to their kids.
It starts with self-education
For starters as parents, educate yourselves as to what your kids are watching and taking interest in. I’m not saying you need to learn to play their games but knowing the concept of them, whether there is online play, find any parental settings, etc. are all great ways to stay in the loop. Along with staying in the loop take some times to find ways to make the internet safer.
Educate your kids
Our kids having access to the internet is inevitable. The internet can be such a great resource for us all, but it can also be such a dangerous place. Take the time to sit down and explain the dangers of the internet. Talk to your kids about ways to use the internet safely and what to do if they encounter sites or people online that are unsafe. I am a firm believer that knowledge is power and by educating our kids we can are supplying them with the tools they need to be out in the world.
Parental controls & Device storage
Nowadays you can find parental controls for just about any device and platform. Make sure you research how to set them up properly and get to parental controlling the heck out of everything in your home.
Along with parental controls another way to control what is being watched is by controlling when your child gets the devices. We have a television in our living room and one in our bedroom. There are no televisions in the kids’ bedrooms or the playroom. We also keep all devices in a communal area and no one is allowed to use them without asking for permission. This way we are aware of when someone is using something and can monitor.
Limit screen time and device usage
I’m not going to sit here and tell you screen time is bad don’t do it! Because it can serve a purpose, whether that purpose is educationally, for entertainment, or for our sanity as parents. Just like you, there are times where putting a show on for 30 mins can make the difference between me ending up crying in the bathroom or not. So how much screen time is okay? I have the following recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics:
- Children under 18 months of age should not have any screen time with the exception of video chatting.
- For kids 18-24 months parents should sit down and help their kids understand what they are watching as well as making sure the content is high quality.
- For the toddlers and pre-schoolers ages 2-5 screen time should be limited to an hour per day with parents watching alongside.
- The recommendations for children 6 and older are a little more vague. the AAP states that the limits should be consistent and should not affect kids having adequate sleep, physical exercise, and other essential behaviors.
- The AAP also recommends having screen-free times such as meal times, driving, and selecting media-free locations
Watch with them
The American Association of Pediatrics speaks on the importance of parents watching alongside not just for safety reasons but to explain to our kids what is happening and helping them apply it to the outside world.
Choose quality content
As much as our kids can love Baby Shark and all the YouTube channels you find aimed for kids, there are many other things they can come across on YouTube with just a click. We use platforms such as Netflix, Disney Now, and ABC Mouse because we know the content there is heavily controlled.
The Momo Challenge videos have left parents frightened of what their kids can come across. A great article by the New York Times explained that the real people targeted here were not the kids, but the parents. This was a huge wake up call for many parents to pay closer attention to their children. Although many choose to put the blame on YouTube the people ultimately responsible are us as parents. It is our job to monitor our kids not YouTube’s. Sure it is upsetting that these videos popped up on YouTube AND YouTube Kids. However, once again we make the decision as parents to let our kids have access.
I would love to know how you help keep your kid’s safe online.