YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki stated in a recent interview with 60 Minutes that she limits the amount of time her children spend on YouTube. She also limits them to using the YouTube Kids app, which has repeatedly had trouble with inappropriate content in the past few years.
In a recent interview with 60 Minutes, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki discussed how the platform deals with the vast amount of content uploaded to the site on a daily basis, and how people have come to use YouTube for a variety of reasons. During the interview with CBS journalist Lesley Stahl, Wojcicki noted that she limits the amount of time her own children are allowed to spend on YouTube.
Stahl asked Wojcicki, “Do you let your children watch YouTube, including the young ones?” To which Wojcicki replied: “So I allow my younger kids to use YouTube Kids, but I limit the amount of time that they’re on it. I think too much of anything is not a good thing. But there’s a lot you can learn on YouTube. I think about how YouTube in many ways is this global library. You wanna see any historical speech, you could see it. You want to be able to learn a language–”
Wojcicki was interrupted by Stahl who asked, “Make a soufflé?” Wojcicki continued stating, “–wanna laugh, you just wanna see something funny. A soufflé! Oh, yeah, cooking. Cooking’s a great example.”
Wojcicki has commented on this in the past; discussing her children’s use of technology in an interview in August of this year Wojcicki stated:
There are moments when it becomes important for them to have a phone. I think middle school [from about the age of 11] is a reasonable point to start educating them about it, but also a lot of times you can take it away. High school is harder – you’re dealing with children who are getting close to going to college, and you have zero control when that happens.
Wojcicki noted that her children exclusively use the YouTube Kids app, a restrictive YouTube app designed to only allow content appropriate for children. But the app has faced its own share of issues in the past, it was reported in 2018 that the YouTube Kids app was suggesting conspiracy theory videos to young children.
“Search for ‘UFO’ on YouTube Kids and you’ll mostly find videos of toys that are clearly fine for children to watch. But one of the top videos claimed to show a UFO shooting at a chemtrail, and we found several videos by prominent conspiracy theorist David Icke in the suggested videos,” Business Insider reported. “One suggested video was an hours-long lecture by Icke in which he claims that aliens built the pyramids, that the planet is run by reptile-human hybrids, that Freemasons engage in human sacrifice, that the assassination of President Kennedy was planned by the US government, and that humans would evolve in 2012.”
In February of 2019, BuzzFeed News reported that Dr. Free Hess, a pediatrician from Gainesville, Florida was shocked when she discovered a massive collection of shocking and violent content on the YouTube Kids app. Hess flagged as many as a dozen videos in the app that have reportedly since been deleted, but she still worries that the child-focused app could contain other inappropriate videos.
“I found about 10 [videos] very quickly and very easily, but stopped there simply because I wanted to get the blog post out, not because there weren’t more,” Hess said. Hess kept a record of some of the content she discovered by screen recording it and sharing it on her blog, PediMom.com. One video titled “Monster School: SLENDERMAN HORROR GAME,” features a character enacting a school shooting. This video was hosted on a channel called TellBite, which has over 167,000 subscribers.
Another clip from the YouTube channel Toasty Qween depicts a female character attempting to commit suicide with a knife before her father intervenes in the situation; the video is set to the song “Don’t You Worry Child.” Another video is a parody of the popular adult-themed video game Doki Doki Literature Club; the parody video is titled “Doki! Doki! Rainclouds New End!!!” and features a character narrating a suicide stating: “Why won’t the world let me die?”
Then there was the Elsagate incident in which disturbing videos that initially seemed to be parodying children’s films such as Frozen but soon turned violent or sexually themed. YouTube also attempted to crack down on these videos following a number of reports about the videos.