Parents beware: YouTube is a trove of bad images children can access

Published: Dec. 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM EST
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(12/12/2017) - "Psycho killer clown can't catch me!"

That's the new phrase a Mid-Michigan 3-year-old just learned.

He accidentally viewed a disturbing Youtube video. And he's not alone.

Dozens of videos like these are floating around the internet just waiting for the next click. Kristie Charvet, who has two boys under age 4, said parents need to be vigilant of what their children are doing online.

She uses a simple distraction tool to occupy 3-year-old Gunner when she just needs to get things done around the house.

"The iPad actually helps contain Gunner, so that if I need to do something or if I'm in the middle of something and he's bugging me I can say, 'Hey, watch this for a minute,'" Charvet said. "So it's kind of a quick fix."

But recently Gunner's iPad time has changed. There's no more YouTube, YouTube Kids or other websites with videos allowed anymore after she made a shocking discovery when Gunner left the iPad on while he was outside playing.

"I come out in the living room and I look down at the iPad and it's a clown dressed up with a Jason mask on and a machete, running around and he’s chasing little kids singing, 'psycho killer clown,'" Charvet said.

She knew those kinds of videos were on the internet, but she was surprised her 3-year-old could find them.

"It's sick. It's a very sick and perverted world that we live in," Charvet said. "It’s just really sad that people think that it's OK to corrupt children's minds like that."

Dr. Recco Richardson, a clinical therapist, said viewing videos like this at such a young age can leave a troubling image in the brain -- and it often can't be forgotten.

"The brain doesn’t forget what it heard and what it saw," Richardson said. "So at the most inopportune time, when a child is stressed out and they go back to pull upon some previous experiences, they'll be from a Youtube video or cartoon."

YouTube has thousands of videos containing, abduction, sex and many acts of violence disguised as kid-friendly with superheroes or other themes.

"I just can’t believe that someone would even make a video like that and make it accessible to kids," Charvet said.

But Richardson said it’s up to parents to keep them hidden from children.

"I think they should have an honest conversation with their child at an age appropriate level and let them know, this is not something that we want you doing," he said. "Give them some options and alternatives. These are some things you can do, this is what we want you to focus on."

Charvet is allowing Gunner time on his iPad, but only on sites she chooses and only on videos she approves.

"As a parent you just have to try to protect them as much as you can," she said. "Obviously, he’s going to come to an age where he is going to learn things on his own, but for right now, I'll heavily monitor and make sure he is watching age appropriate things.