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Ryan’s Dad Reviews #1: YouTube Kids

Pictured: the portal to your doom

So I mentioned in the introductory post that I would use this corner to review and give my take on the myriad of things you’re going to be subjected to as a parent (specifically from a Father’s perspective) as you encounter the day to day activities of living with a toddler. She will inhabit house and home, consume all your food, and most important of all, need your undivided attention at all times.

Of course you’re going to spend time with your adorable little seed, after all, you’re raising the little munchkin, so why wouldn’t you? Unless you need to clean, work, or God-forbid, have some time to yourself.

There’s going to be a point early on in your child’s life where you decide that you guess it’s okay for them to handle electronics, specifically a tablet. I remember the first time my Daughter actually discovered her Mother’s old iPad that we hardly ever use. She had been watching YouTube on my parent’s phone before my Wife decided that MAYBE it was a good idea to let her “have her own”.

We did some reading about good apps for kids, some educational, some with educational games, and of course YouTube. One of the first things we read about was YouTube Kids, so we decided to download it and let her try it.

Oh God. Oh dear Merciful Father in Heaven. My God.

PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU SHOULD DOWNLOAD YOUTUBE KIDS FOR YOUR CHILD AND NOT REGULAR YOUTUBE. THERE ARE A TON OF DISTURBING VIDEOS AIMED AT CHILDREN ON YOUTUBE. THEY’RE QUESTIONABLE ON YOUTUBE KIDS TOO (SO BE ON THE LOOKOUT), BUT I CANNOT EMPHASIZE THIS ENOUGH. FOR MORE INFORMATION GOOGLE ELSAGATE. I’M SERIOUS, IF YOU HAVE NOT HEARD OF ELSAGATE, STOP READING THIS, GOOGLE ELSAGATE AND THEN COME BACK.

At first everything was fine: baby girl would watch some Disney Sing-a-longs, a few nursery rhyme videos, stuff like that. Then things got weird.

1280x720-GfH
This song haunts me in my dreams

I’m not particularly sure what point it was when European companies realized they could make some serious bank off YouTube ad revenue by making shoddily animated videos with bad nursery rhymes, but whoa boy have they cornered that market. I’m not really sure where this “Johnny Johnny” nursery rhyme came from, but it’s bad. Very bad. Like Cavaliers without LeBron James bad. Cleveland Browns bad. 2015 Peyton Manning bad. You get the idea.

There are SO many nursery rhymes like this and so many videos like this. What’s worse is that they devolve further from there. If you hear “Johnny Johnny”, or any “Finger Family” videos, run, run away now. Block them, block them all before your child even discovers that this is a thing they love. I’m so serious.

One of the absolute worst offenders though is ChuChuTV, some Eastern European crafted YouTube channel that could also have come out of Tommy Wiseau’s pen.

tommy wiseau

ChuChuTV features a load of kids with chubby cheeks who are always following their friend “Mr. Harlow”, who is some weird mixture of an elephant and a unicorn. The episodes feature them either opening some “surprise eggs” (there’s an entire Kinder surprise eggs phenomenon that I can’t even get into right now) or singing some wild version of a weird nursery rhyme. The animation of the entire channel falls into uncanny valley and is just weird in any and every sense. The dialogue is terrible, the pronunciations are awful and everything about it is just dead wrong.

What’s craziest of all though are the obviously generated nursery rhyme videos or mix and match videos that were created by someone typing a slew of random characters and popular videos into an algorithm and then said algorithm randomly spewing out those characters in a series of videos. For example.

hulk mickey
BY ALL THAT IS HOLY

That is a thing that seriously exists. It is a video. Those two properties do not belong together for any reason other than being owned by Disney. There is no reason for this. But it gets worse.

paw patrol ironman
Call God right now and apologize for whatever it is you did.

The other categories of videos are the ones that feature adults voice acting dolls and toys so kids can witness them being “interacted with”. They’re not necessarily creepy, just annoying (although there are SOME that cross a bizarre line), the worst of those may be the ones where they try to “create” episodes of kids shows (kids shows that I’ll cover later). All of which are a targeted cash grab meant to suck in kids who are searching for keywords like “Paw Patrol” or “Mickey Mouse” or “Frozen” or “Moana”. No, seriously, you can find entire 6 minute scenes from Moana that are nothing but color filters thrown over the same scene repeatedly to “teach” colors.

Now, with ALL this being said, there are some positives about YouTube Kids. There are plenty of videos out there that have the fullest intent of actually teaching kids different things from colors to shapes, the alphabet, etc. One in particular is a series that follows a talking train named Bob, it’s uncanny valley animation, but it still is pretty good at what it does. The key for these videos are:

  1. Always keeping an eye on what your child is watching. Some ElsaGate videos have gotten into YouTube Kids. Be careful. Run your home. Block videos and channels you don’t like.
  2. When your child does find those educational videos, reinforce them. Seriously. My child was familiar with shapes, letters and colors because of some of these videos (in combination of us working with her) before she went to daycare. 1 month in and she’s been picking up more and more words.
  3. Limit the time your child watches videos so that they can’t get too deep down the rabbithole…….and so their eyes don’t get glued to that thing.

We usually let our daughter get the iPad once per day, towards the end of the day. It’s a life saver as much as it is an annoyance. Make sure to get other apps for the tablet with plenty of puzzles and games for your child. They’ll enjoy it, you’ll have peace of mind.

Rating:

YouTube Kids is a weird place, but there is some educational benefit to a few videos on there. While most are mindless, there are plenty of nursery rhymes to be found, and good times to be had by your child. Keep a close eye on what they’re watching and you’ll be fine.

4/10.

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