By this time, it’s pretty well-documented that the autoplay feature on YouTube is not healthy for anyone of any age. Not only does it cause teens and adults to watch content for much longer than they normally would, but it has a tendency to get increasingly extreme and polarizing, feeding unknowing audiences false, misleading, or conspiracy-minded content.
But many parents — especially newer parents — don’t know that even YouTube Kids, which is touted as a safe space, comes with autoplay dangers that can harm kids.
Now, a new viral TikTok shows just one example. In it, viewers see what first appears to be a normal Thomas the Train video playing — but within seconds, the video turns terrifying. Thomas’ eyes turn red and he says, “I’m gonna chug. I’m gonna choo. I’m going to kill the lot of you!”
“Parents, beware if you let your children watch YouTube Kids! I was shocked when I saw this pop up while my 2 year old was watching,” she captioned the video. “I don’t even have words for this. Needless to say we are looking for a different subscription for Brody to watch.”
This is not the first time that this issue has been brought to public attention. In 2016, “Elsagate” took place: a controversy that uncovered thousands of violent, inappropriate, and sexual videos on YouTube that were disguised as kids’ content like Frozen and Spiderman videos. The result was millions of dollars in fines for YouTube — and the company taking new steps to stop content.
But the issue is obviously still there, though many parents assume that YouTube kids has solved the problem.
And it’s important to know that the issue is not isolated to YouTube. Remember the time Kim Kardashian’s son Saint saw an advertisement for his mom’s alleged sex tape while he was playing Roblox?
What are the best things you can do to protect your kid? First and foremost, make sure that your YouTube autoplay is turned off in the parental settings (if it’s turned off in the kids’ settings only, your kids can easily turn it back on). You can also only let your kids watch channels that you approve of and nothing else. Another possible solution? Just stick to more trusted and vetted organizations for your toddler’s screen time, like PBS Kids or Netflix Kids.