No substitute for parents: YouTube Kids suicide videos show even kid safe isn't safe

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SWARTZ CREEK (WJRT) (02/26/2018) - A Mid-Michigan mom is reacting to a video pulled from
YouTube Kids, which contained a short clip of a man providing suicide instructions.

"I gasped at first to be honest," said Lacy Watson.

She said parental controls are just not enough.

"It's a false sense of security. Programs can only do so much," Watson said.

The Swartz Creek resident and mother of three said there's no substitute for a parent's set of eyes.

Her son Jayson enjoys Minecraft videos on YouTube Kids. After hearing about the hidden message promoting suicide tucked into a different type of video clip that's been removed, she watched it on a blog with her both of her sons.

She followed up with a very frank conversation about suicide.

"I said, 'If you ever see something like this, you have to tell me right away,'" Watson said.

Barb Smith, the executive director of the Barb Smith Suicide Resource and Response Network, said these type of messages in the form of cartoons discovered in YouTube Kids videos can put children at risk.

She said parents have a responsibility to protect their kids as much as possible. That starts with a simple, open and direct conversation about suicide:

"Have you ever thought about that -- and if they say 'yes', instead of going into parent mode, like why would you think that, what about me and dad, you might say something like well when did you have those thoughts? Why did it come into your mind on that day?" Smith said.

For those that need help, including children, the number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK. See Related Links on the right side or bottom of this story for more information.

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