Though YouTube was not initially designed for kids, some current content is warping young minds, raising alarm.
Praying to haunted dolls
Youtuber Tho Nguyen.
A wave of ire was aroused when YouTuber Tho Nguyen uploaded on her channel with nearly 900,000 subscribers a clip in which she was beseeching a doll Kumanthong (a ‘fetish’ in Thailand) to grant luck to students whose exams were coming close.
Embracing the doll, she said “my child! It’s their big day, please bless them and give them success in the exams. Show mommy your approval by shaking back and forth, if you don’t mommy will slap your bottom!” She was swinging a chain in front of the doll’s face as she spoke.
After the outrage that it caused, Tho Nguyen claimed it was misunderstood, but it failed to quell the public vexation.
Eating washing powder, drinking shower gel
Two YouTubers from channel “Toy Planet” commonly post video series entitled “Eating cactus”, “drinking dishwashing liquid”, “Eating soap, drinking shower gel”.
These misleading titles sparked widespread frustration.
Particularly, in video “Counterfeiting the soap with chocolate”, the two YouTubers used fake soap and shower gel with milk and white chocolate. One ate soap and shower gel (made from milk and chocolate) in front of his friend, while the other held real soap and shower gel and pretended to eat.
The content was criticized for misguiding children. The two Youtubers then posted a video of apology, adding that, “Our videos are aimed at children over 13 years old who are mature enough to discern the content and not imitate the titles or images included.”
This explanation was considered just an excuse since the channel previously set no age limit for their audience.
Dropping 100 knifes from above
A “Drop 100 knives on high” clip was shown on November 2019 on YouTube channel NTN Vlogs by YouTuber Nguyen Thanh Nam.
A bundle of 87 small knives was dropped from a terrace targeting pork on a thin sponge. The vlogger also created similar content with the knife aimed at a watermelon and a soft drink bottle.
These videos were opposed by the cyber community as their content can lead to dangerous or illegal activities causing serious physical harm or death. Despite age-restricted content policy implemented by NTN vlogs, there is no complete assurance they will be discovered only by appropriate audiences.
Many youngsters have been misguided by these instructions on YouTube videos and have endangered their lives.
In January 2020, after using explosives to make firecrackers, a 15-year-old from Hai Duong was hospitalized in a state of multiple injuries: crushed right forearm, left forearm wound, wrist tendon rupture and other soft tissue injuries on the leg sides.
The patient had followed an instruction from YouTube on how to make firecrackers and bought explosives and sulfur for the process, which did not end well.
In October 2020, the death of a 5 years old girl was a huge shock. At the time of the incident, she had just finished watching an online video tutorial on hanging which incited her to do something similar with a chiffon scarf. Regrettably, the girl was only discovered after she had turned pale and died.
Likewise, in November 2019, a 7-year-old boy from HCMC was found bruised by a scarf after mimicking the video “hanging but still breathing” on YouTube. He luckily was rescued in time.
When asked, the boy said he had many times watched the game ‘risen from the death’ on YouTube in which the character shows how to strangle but still continue breathing without dying, so he did the same.
It is time to do something about the inappropriate material on YouTube that is easily accessible to kids. Young minds are curious and eager to learn, yet at the same time prone to toxic content that seems engrossing at first blush.