Parents warned of Peppa Pig YouTube horror show
EXCLUSIVE: A THREE-YEAR-OLD Melbourne girl was seconds away from viewing a beheading - embedded within a YouTube Kids clip of Peppa Pig - on her TV.
The tech giant is also being blamed for preschool children aged 4 and 5 from New South Wales and Queensland simulating in sexual acts during school hours, after being exposed to pornographic content on the same kids' platform.
And News Corp Australia can reveal 1 in 5 children aged eight and under are accessing pornography online, according to new data.
The revelations are not the first time YouTube and it's child-focused offshoot YouTube Kids have come under fire and follow previous reports of Peppa Pig cartoons being distorted to show untoward acts.
This is despite YouTube Kids marketing itself as: "safer and simpler for kids to explore the world through online video."
Cyber experts, including the Minister for Law Enforcement and Cyber Safety Angus Taylor, have called for social media companies to take more responsibility for their content.
"I am aware of these types of cases," Minister Taylor said.
"Social media companies absolutely have a responsibility to do more."
The shocking case involving the Melbourne child, from Moonee Ponds, occurred when she did not have access to a device and was watching a Peppa Pig episode streamed to the TV as her mother took a conference call.
When the girl's mother noticed Peppa Pig not talking she checked on the child and the noticed the cartoon had shifted to video of a recorded beheading, with a man kneeling on the ground as others surrounded him about to commit the act. She managed to turn the TV off before the beheading took place.
The traumatised mother has not put her child back on YouTube or YouTube Kids since and wanted to share her story anonymously to alert other parents to the dangers of unsupervised access to online material.
YouTube did not respond to News Corp's request for comment on the incident, only to say it took the safety of it's users seriously.
In background information provided it appeared, despite claims of safety, YouTube Kids is no safer than YouTube and untoward material needs to be reported by users to the company before being taken down.
"All versions of the YouTube Kids app use filters powered by algorithms to select videos from YouTube. We continually work hard to make our algorithms as accurate as possible in order to provide a safer version of YouTube," a spokeswoman said.
Digital expert Dr Kristy Goodwin, who has advised the mother of the Melbourne child, said the mother was "extremely traumatised" by the incident.
Dr Goodwin said it was becoming increasingly common for very young children to be exposed to age-inappropriate material hidden in seemingly innocuous videos or games online.
"I have been called into several preschools in NSW and QLD after children have been engaged in sexual acts due to exposure to material online, including on YouTube," she said.
"These four and five year-olds are imitating doggy style, they are trying to force other children to imitate the act of fellatio all in the schoolyard because of things they have been exposed to online."
Esafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant said she was aware of a disturbing trend where videos that feature popular children's cartoons or content - like Peppa Pig or Disney's Frozen - include inappropriate themes for children.
"Children, especially those who are preschool age, will not have the cognitive ability to process this content, which can be harmful both psychologically and physically, so prevention is important in the first instance."
Susan McClean, the Cyber Cop said: "If you want to keep your children 100 per cent safe watching content, put on a DVD. Don't stream things through the internet."
Tim Levy, Managing Director of cyber safety platform Family Zone, said children were increasingly getting access to pornography online.
One in 5 Australian children have viewed porn online this year according to usage data of Family Zone's 350,000 users.
This number increases to a third of 9-12 year-olds.
"Interestingly the most recorded time of access to this material is 3-4pm in afternoon when they've gotten home from school and the house and parents are busy," Mr Levy said.
TOP 5 TIPS FOR PARENTS IF THEIR KIDS SEE VIOLENT OR SEXUAL MATERIAL
- Stay calm and listen to your child - let them fill you in on the details so you can help manage the situation - Eg how they found it, where it happened, if someone showed them and how they felt when they saw it.
- Reassure your child they are not in trouble - punishing them may damage the trust in your relationship and drive unwanted behaviour underground.
- Talk with your child about how the content made them feel and let them know it's normal to feel that way.
- Depending on your child's age and family values, you may wish to have 'the talk' about sexual relationships, love and intimacy.
- Problem-solve together - encourage them to think of ways to stay safe online and avoid coming across this content again.
Source: Office of the eSafety Commissioner