YouTube has countless hours of popular kids programs such as Peppa Pig, Paw Patrol, Micky Mouse, Frozen etc. These videos may not be as harmless as they seem, and may contain inappropriate content promoting suicide, violence, sexual references and other inappropriate themes. Although YouTube has put effort into monitoring and deleting this content, they are still circulating on the site.
An article on wired.co.uk reported seeing reproduced versions of Micky Mouse cartoons uploaded, but the content of these recreations was frightening. One video contained a scene of Mini Mouse being sucked into an escalator. According to the wired article, these videos were easily found after watching legitimate kids cartoons. The author of this post wrote “A random browsing test with a toddler (who wasn’t actually shown any unpleasant content) took us from YouTube-native children’s favourite Bob the Train to, a few stubby-fingered lunges at the tablet screen later, a fake Mickey Mouse cartoon with depictions of eye-gouging, a parasite-infested stomach and small children setting each other on fire”
What we found
To test if these videos are still circulating on YouTube, we searched for some popular kids videos, and started watching legitimate kid’s cartoons. After clicking videos on the suggestion bar, it eventually lead us to low-budget remakes of well known cartoons such as Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol. However, the most popular videos were fake Micky Mouse episodes.
The first, and one of the most disturbing video we came across was called “Micky Mouse and Ivy Adultery and Mini Mouse Suicides!”. The video shows Micky being drunk in a bar, and Mini attempting to commit suicide. Other videos we found included Mini Mouse being stuck in a washing machine and a character being tied to a train track. These videos are highly unsuitable for children, and it is extremely worrying that our children could be watching this type of content without our knowledge. Unfortunately, many parents are unaware of the content of these videos, because they are disguised as innocent kid’s cartoons.
YouTuber Philip DeFranco discussed this topic in a video in 2017, explaining how people were taking advantage of YouTube’s algorithm to push this type of content to young kids. YouTube has made changes to the site, which has lowered the amount of these videos getting views. However, their restrictions are not bullet proof, as inappropriate videos are still making their way to the suggestion bar.
Why are these videos so addictive to children?
Children love these types of videos not for their story line, but because they are created in such a way that incites children. The videos are often a compilation of short animated stories containing bright colours, annoying sound effects and reoccurring characters. These aspects draw children into the videos and keep them interested.