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YouTube is finally doing something about inappropriate kids videos

They’re rolling out some new policies to make the Youtube Kids app safer.

YouTube is finally doing something about inappropriate kids videos

For years moms and dads have been warning each other about stealthy, disturbing videos that slide into YouTube search results for familiar characters like Peppa Pig, Elsa, or the gang from Paw Patrol.


Now, finally, YouTube is cracking down on videos that hijack beloved characters and basically turn them into nightmare fuel.

YouTube’s announcement of a new policy on the “inappropriate use of family entertainment characters” comes after a viral Medium post by writer James Bridle and a report by The New York Times amplified the phenomenon some parents have dubbed “Elsagate” (as searching for Disney's Elsa can yield some bizarre, very non-Disney results).

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Under the new policy (which is being implemented but not yet in effect), videos that are flagged by users and deemed age-restricted won’t be visible to those who aren’t logged into YouTube, those who are logged in on a minor’s account, or to those browsing via the YouTube Kids app.

“The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right,” YouTube’s director of policy Juniper Downs said in a statement posted to several sites.

This comes after another policy change earlier this year that made such videos ineligible for monetization. That policy may have removed some of the incentive for the makers of such videos, but for parents of kids who had already been frightened by them, the change came a little late.

Some parents feel let down by YouTube Kids. When it was announced in 2015, Google touted the app as “a safer and easier [way] for children to find videos.”

“Parents can rest a little easier knowing that videos in the YouTube Kids app are narrowed down to content appropriate for kids,” Shimrit Ben-Yair, YouTube Kids group product manager wrote in a blog post announcing the app back in 2015.

Unfortunately, videos featuring kids’ characters engaged in violent or otherwise disturbing acts made it passed the algorithms that separate regular YouTube from YouTube Kids.

YouTube knows this, and notes it in the YouTube Kids Parental Guide: “No algorithm is perfect. This means your child might find content you don't want him or her to watch. If this happens, please flag the video.”

It doesn’t seem like a lot of parents are flagging those videos, though. According to YouTube, less than 0.005% of videos watched in the YouTube Kids app over the last month were pulled after being flagged. Meanwhile, YouTube is rolling out new profiles that tailor the Kids app experience to the child’s age, changing the home screen to feature less text for the little kids, and more for the reading-age crowd.

The setup process for the new profiles gives parents more information about how to block and flag any inappropriate videos that get past though the algorithm. “Remember, our systems work hard to filter out more mature content from the app. But no system is perfect,” Balaji Srinivasan, YouTube Kids Engineering Director wrote in a recent blog post introducing kid profiles.

Hopefully, the changes will see YouTube Kids become a safer way to stream, but some parents are choosing to bypass the minefield of user generated content in favor of more official sources (with the added bonus of better production values).

More and more vetted reputable kids content is available online these days. The companies who make it know that average daily screen time for kids on handheld devices is up 10 times over 2011 (while TV time for little kids is down), and trusted content makers are following the kids to the mobile world. YouTube isn’t the only option for those moments when you simply need to stream (like when there’s an excessively long wait in the pediatrician's waiting room).

Disney’s video site provides a place to watch the real Elsa while we wait for Disney’s highly anticipated streaming service, and the PBS KIDS Video app only hosts the kind of content you would find on the public broadcaster. Netflix offers the non-bootleg versions of many kids shows, Nickelodeon has its Noggin app, and some cable providers offer on-the-go streaming in addition to regular TV.

No matter where you’re getting your online videos, experts say the best way for kids to consume it is with a parent. Having mom or dad as a video buddy can help kids become more discerning viewers since we’re there to teach them about media literacy.

“What we strongly recommend is for parents to curate kids’ media content when they’re young and to co-view with them, so that they can model the idea of critically engaging with media,” Matthew Johnson of Media Smarts told Convergence, a magazine by the Humber School of Journalism.

The YouTubers who hijack the characters our kids trust and do violent, upsetting things with them are pretty skilled at getting past the algorithms, but they can’t get past a parent’s own eyes. Our kids may not be able to spot a bootleg Peppa, but we can.

14 outdoor toys your kids will want to play with beyond summer

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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International Network for Aid, Relief and Assistance (INARA)

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