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Parents raise alarm over suicide tips hidden in YouTube Kids videos

Kids love YouTube, but unfortunately, surprise eggs are not the only surprise on the platform. The same things that make YouTube great for well-meaning content creators also attract people who are using it to introduce children to concepts like suicide and self-harm.

As the Washington Post reports, Florida mom and pediatrician Free Hess, founder of the child safety website, PediMom raised the alarm about such videos after a friend noticed one while playing the YouTube kids app to distract her child from a nosebleed.

The video, which began as an innocent cartoon but was interrupted by a man instructing children on how to commit suicide, was removed from YouTube thanks to Hess' campaigning, but it was just one of an unknown number of videos promoting suicide to children on the YouTube Kids app.

"My research has led me into a horrifying world where people create cartoons glorifying dangerous topics and scenarios such self-harm, suicide, sexual exploitation, trafficking, domestic violence, sexual abuse, and gun violence which includes a simulated school shooting. All of these videos were found on YouTube Kids, a platform that advertises itself to be a safe place for children 8 years old and under," Hess writes on PediMom.

A spokesperson for YouTube told the Washington Post the video platform is always working to make sure it is "not used to encourage dangerous behavior and we have strict policies that prohibit videos which promote self-harm."

According to YouTube's spokesperson, the Google-owned platform relies on both user flagging and smart detection technology to flag content that violates its policies. "Every quarter we remove millions of videos and channels that violate our policies and we remove the majority of these videos before they have any views," the spokesperson told the Post in a written statement.

YouTube is aware of and trying to fix the problem, but it's a really hard one to fix because it's really hard to police YouTube.

This is not the first time inappropriate content aimed at YouTube's youngest viewers has made the news.

Back in 2017 the inappropriate use of beloved kids characters like Peppa Pig, Spider-Man and Elsa became international news after a viral Medium post by writer James Bridle and a report by The New York Times illuminated the weird, creepy and downright disturbing videos YouTube users were creating featuring the characters.

In 2018, YouTube announced plans to roll out a non-algorithmic version option within parental controls in the YouTube Kids apps that serves up content curated by humans who know the difference between the real Peppa Pig and a crazed counterfeit version.

The thing about YouTube is that while it's been around for so long that some of its stars don't remember a world where it didn't exist, it's still kind of a Wild West, anything-goes content portal, and while it certainly attracts some creators of quality kids programming, it's also open to people who don't care about kids at all, and, even worse, are actually seeking to scare or harm them.

Parents can take action on this by saying no to unsupervised YouTube. If you know you're going to want to have a portable video handy in case of emergency (like a long wait at the DMV or the doctor's office), download some legit videos (like an episode of Sesame Street) from Google Play or the Apple App Store and save the YouTube sessions for when you can devote as much attention to the screen as your child can, and monitor their content consumption in real time.

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We're so glad to live in a time when modern baby gear exists. Sure, no one is going to argue that having a baby is easy—but it can be easier with support from some gadgets designed to help your baby and put your mind at ease.

As you build your baby registry, look for products that go the extra mile to make your life a whole lot easier. For example, what's better than a bassinet? A bassinet that can rock by itself. And what's better than a traditional baby monitor? One that allows you to actually take a peek at your baby. Believe us when we say these upgrades can make all the difference.

Here are 10 baby gadgets that will make your life so much easier… relatively speaking, of course!


A bassinet to promote safe + sound sleep

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$239.99

A smart swing for your baby

4moms mamaRoo 4 Bluetooth Enabled High-Tech Baby Swing - Classic

Believe it or not, many babies are born with strong opinions about how they want to be rocked, swung or shushed to calm down. With the mamaRoo's various motions and reclining positions, you'll be able to find a setting your baby loves when you need to free up your hands for a bit.

$219.99

A complete travel system for car + sidewalk

Chicco Bravo Travel System - Indigo

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A swaddle you don’t have to wrestle

Love To Dream Swaddle UP Original

What do babies and Harry Houdini have in common? A knack for breaking out of tight constraints—which can be a headache when swaddling is the best way to help promote good sleep. Thanks to a breakout-proof swaddle that allows your baby to sleep with their hands up, you don't have to work up a sweat just to get your baby comfortably swaddled.

$29.99

A nursery wherever you need it

Baby Trend Lil Snooze Deluxe II Nursery Center

During the early days of parenting (when you are feeding and changing your baby around the clock), having convenient access to everything you need with a go-anywhere nursery station can save you serious time and energy.

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A little help for stuffy noses

Fridababy NoseFrida Nasal Aspirator

Up until the point years down the road when your child is able to blow their own nose, the sniffles can be a real struggle—but not with a nasal aspirator that makes it easy for you to get that snot out of their nose.

$15.99

A way to keep an eye on your baby

VTech 5" Digital Video Baby Monitor - VM5251

Trust us when we say you'll sleep better when you know your baby is also sleeping soundly. That's why we're so thankful for modern-day video monitors, which allow you to check in on your sleeping baby without running the risk of waking them up when you sneak in for a peek.

$79.99

A bassinet for hands-free rocking

Simmons Kids Silent Auto Gliding Elite Bassinet - Odyssey

Babies are soothed by rocking motions. But what does that mean for you if you can't rock them throughout the night? With an auto-gliding bassinet, they can comfortably drift off to sleep... and continue snoozing.

$99.99

An easy way to contain diaper smells

Diaper Genie Expressions Pail

Sometimes it's the little conveniences that make a big difference in the quality of your day-to-day life. That's why a great diaper pail should not be undervalued: By containing the smell, you will save yourself dozens upon dozens of trips to the garbage can.

$24.99

A white noise machine that pulls double duty

Hatch Rest Sound Machine, Night Light & Time-to-Rise

A phone-controlled sound machine may be something you never considered until now, but it will be a major lifesaver for years to come, especially as it can also function as a time-to-rise clock that promotes good sleep habits for your child.

$59.99

And as for securing all these awesome products? Well, a Target baby registry is the way to do it. By creating your baby registry with Target, you will also enjoy their Year of Benefits registry program, which includes perks like a welcome kit with more than $100 in savings and samples, two 15% off coupons to complete your registry, and a full year of returns. The benefits are better than ever right now: Target just launched the Year of Exclusive Deals perk as one of its registry benefits, and this includes a year's worth of discounts on baby essentials (think diapers and formula) and comes complementary when you sign up for Target Circle.

Because while parenting may not be "easy," deciding to register with Target definitely is an easy decision. Start your Target baby registry now and enjoy shopping with a Year of Benefits featuring a Year of Exclusive Deals available via Target Circle, two 15% off coupons, a year of hassle-free returns, a free welcome kit and more!

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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