After the longest hiatus, I have decided to start blogging again, relaunching my blog, so that I have more words to share with all of you. Also because the amount of creep that slips into my dm’s on Instagram can sometimes get a bit much.
Before having the boys, I had read every book, every article, got every little gadget to prepare myself for having kids *yeah, lets all throw our heads back with laughter in unison* until that is, the boys came into the world. I had this fully prepared list on how my kids would never mess, would always be well behaved and TV, ha! my kids would not even know what a television looked like *laughing so hard I peed a little*.
Realistically, this was bound to fail, but that being said, the world our children are currently living is technology based, if we don’t have a screen in our hands, its on our work desks or in our cars, lest not forget the ease of access to the internet. It would be foolish to assume our children would not be exposed to a world that is so engrossed in screen time BUT we can manage what they are exposed to.
I had a horrid incident with Cupcake when he was about a year and a half, he was watching some cute nursery rhymes while I was preparing supper nearby, when I heard a familiar laugh, the Joker from Batman, I walked over and it was Elsa, in a Spiderman outfit , licking a lollipop, and the Joker wanting to fondle her boobs. I grabbed the phone so quickly that he cried. Being me, I started to do some digging and I was horrified.
Out there, in the universe, are a bunch of sick, yes I said sick, adults who are creating cartoons that start off fairly innocent, and then about 4min in, those innocent cartoons turn into the stuff of nightmares. From adult situations to grotesque torture, I could not block videos fast enough. Until I discovered Youtube Kids, this was a godsend as I could block certain channels and also certain videos that I found.
This has definitely been a saving grace for us with both boys, that being said, Youtube has been embroiled in controversy for the past few months, with not screening channels that depict child abuse situations to the newest trend of videos teaching children on how to commit suicide.
As parents we need to lift the blind to this entire situation, internet safety is real, our children are not finding these things outside like when we were younger, its not a dirty magazine hidden under a mattress or a late night movie on eTV on a Friday night, our children are being exposed to things far beyond their reach all within the palms of their delicate fingers and we need to step up hard.
So the next obvious question would be: What do I do?
Firstly, if you have Youtube Kids, you can adjust the settings in the following way. Log into your childs profile and turn off the Allow Searching setting. With the current Momo incident, thus far it has not affected Youtube Kids, but to err on the side of caution, this would be the best option.
Secondly, turn on the Approved Content Only button. This allows your child to have viewing limited to channels that are safe, BUT, do bear in mind when choosing channels that they always upload new content and internet trolls are real. Once a channel is hacked, the content can deviate so quickly.
Lastly, turn on Pause Watch History, this was ultimately the reason Cupcake ended up on a wrong channel as Youtube suggests new videos based on your watch history, and as someone who has had her fair share of Youtube binges, I can guarantee you that the rabbit hole runs deep. Save the settings, log off and check to see that the changes are indeed saved.
Other options to look at would be checking the channels on your TV. Example I hate Cartoon Network on DSTV for my kids as it is more for much older kids and is laden with sexual innuendos. (That’s a conversation for a different day). NickJR is amazing in my books as the shows are educational and the boys absolutely love it. Blaze and the monster machines taught my kids about trajectory and motor mechanics!
If you have Netflix, Netflix Children also allows you to have a seperate profile for children that allows you to implement the Parental Controls, thus far I cannot complain and we have yet to watch DSTv since. This channel is solely limited to kids viewing and won’t allow your kids to stumble upon an episode of Sex Education for example.
If you really not keen on downloading Youtube Kids but you have Youtube, then downloaded videos for Offline Use is a resort. This allows you to select videos to download, switch your data off and limits viewing only of the saved videos in your downloads.
As a really sure fire way of ensuring you don’t need to go through any of these steps, the good old movie download and DVD works wonders. I have an extensive collection of cartoons (yeah, don’t judge me) as well as DVDs that we have collected for the boys, because as a family, we enjoy our downtime.
Screen time is an elastic boundary in our house, in the sense that the boys spend majority of their time at school, outside in the yard, or busy with their own little projects, so when they do feel like chilling at the TV, they can. I know this rule is different in every household but this works for us.
Hoping this helps fight the evil elements out there,
Always with Love & Peace