The nightmare videos of childrens' YouTube — and what's wrong with the internet today | James Bridle

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Writer and artist James Bridle uncovers a dark, strange corner of the internet, where unknown people or groups on YouTube hack the brains of young children in return for advertising revenue. From "surprise egg" reveals and the "Finger Family Song" to algorithmically created mashups of familiar cartoon characters in violent situations, these videos exploit and terrify young minds -- and they tell us something about where our increasingly data-driven world is headed. "We need to stop thinking about technology as a solution to all of our problems, but think of it as a guide to what those problems actually are, so we can start thinking about them properly and start to address them," Bridle says. Learn more about James Bridle's work: Check out more TED Talks: The TED Talks channel features the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers and doers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes (or less). Look for talks on Technology, Entertainment and Design -- plus science, business, global issues, the arts and more. Follow TED on Twitter: Like TED on Facebook: Subscribe to our channel:

Comments from Youtube

Minaz : And yet...YouTube is doing NOTHING ... absolutely nothing about this..

Commenter Number One : I can't stand those creepy computer generated marvel ones (usually Spiderman is the lead running around) that play skip to my lou on repeat for 30 minutes!

Elsa Frost : Who tf gives their toddler a tablet?

SagooBoy : I hate those finger videos. They are so monotonous and creepy.

HauntHunter : I’m extremely happy that I didn’t have the chance to watch this as a child.

RyanNickelsPK : its not that hard to be a responsible parent... our 3 year old has an ipad he watches youtube kids with and we noticed really early on that there was some messed up stuff showing up on the videos. Immediately we set a lock and filter on the app to ONLY allow videos from channels that we have approved. So video content from real creators of childrens content like Dave and Ava, Blippi, Little Baby Bum, Pocoyo, etc, are the ones that show up on his playlist. occasionally we come across a new channel with appropriate content like Baby Bus and Tayo and we add them to the list. Havent had any troubles since.

starter1261 : its gotten bad enough to where TED themselves are talking about the videos. jesus.

MirandaK321 : Very young children don’t need any “screen time.” It’s just lazy parenting. We already know that a lot of screen time can lead to anxiety and depression.

Scrimshaw Games : When I have kids they wont be allowed on YouTube

In My Honest Opinion : Well, this TED Talk wasn't expected at all, BUT it's definitely an issue that has been here for a long time on YouTube (Edit: DAMN! 7,000+ Likes?!? Thanks! This also wasn't expected at all)

Professor Plum : All my little brother does is watch Minecraft videos on YouTube. Now every other sentence contain "yeet" and if he even sees a camera he says "don't forget to like and subscribe and ring that bell" he's 5 and I'm kinda scared what he is gonna be like when he is older. Idk...

eddie gonzalez : well he got me. my kids officially are banned from youtube unless its pbs kids

SpaghettiWombat : When I was younger, my mom didn’t allow my brother and I to watch YouTube, despite both him and I thinking we were old enough to handle whatever the internet could throw at our young faces. I’m glad now that she enforced that rule.

Anuojat : Permissive parenting isint loving. Its lazy and neglectful. Using your phone instead of talking and chatting with your kid on the bus/car drive is truly sad affair that this is the hole left where BONDING ought to be.

A Vsaucy Boi : If it took a TED video to tell us these kid videos are horrible and not the countless creators ranting about it. Then I’m at a disbelief

superWTF64lol : I will *never* understand why some parents find it more appealing to let their kids watch these kids videos instead of traditional cartoons Like, what's the point? Sure, there are vulgar cartoons too, but there are also literally decades of material to work with that are just as easily accessible too. And, to top it all off, traditional cartoons are a million times better too! When the parent enjoys watching a show with their kids, it's always a good sign, but with this YouTube stuff? Generic characters, awkward computer animation, lesson or moral of story isn't interesting, feels like you are being brainwashed from just watching, feels forced and doesn't have any soul, etc. I mean, why would anybody think its better to let kids watch that instead of traditional cartoons? Edit: Ok, sure, these videos ARE easier to find because they get plastered all over the kids section, unlike traditional cartoons because of reasons like copyright. However! I've seen snippets of cartoons all over YouTube, from the Flinstones to Pokemon to Cartoon Network to whatever kids are watching nowadays, I've been around the block on this website for years.) All I'm saying is that parents should look for these cartoons instead of instantly choosing what they see on the kids section (Just type into the search bar, its literally one extra step)

Joshua Harmening : My kids have zero unsupervised access to the internet. Period.

SeaRose : By the way, you tube itself seems to intentionally put intensely disturbing and frighten Ads on childrens videos. Slasher movie trailers do not need to run on Mister Rogers episodes....yet that isn't the result of gaming the algortihms...that is intentional choice by YouTube to expose children to anything and everything via Ads.

Rain Aqua : Families nowadays are becoming less intimate and the parents I observe around me are busy with something else and find their children's whining and attention-grabbing activities mostly bothersome so these parents just give their phone. My younger cousins spend more time with their phone than with their parents. I am guilty of holding my phone as often, too. But because I am conscious... i learn to put it away when I am with my family... However, its becoming a trend to keep the kids busy on the phone, letting them get used to looking at the screen than paying attention to their environment. So you tube isn't at fault with what kids watch... its the parents who let their kids aimlessly stream them. You tube is a tool... Parents are the agent we need to inform and mobilize.. (which is seriously difficult and highly subjective to how much these parents care)

Space duck : I'm glad I grew up in the time of Minecraft roller coaster videos

Mr Orc Shaman : This is why, and I've said it many times on forums or other youtube videos, the fact youtube keeps trying to push this platform as some family friendly thing, and how their trying to cut away all original creators from putting things up on the platform because 'oh won't somebody please think of the children!', the fact youtube allows this crap as mentioned here to keep being put up, but silences content made for an adult audience, says how out of touch youtube is with its own audience. Youtube was made by people, for people, it wasn't made by a company or brand with intent to sell to children or other such demographics.

General Jackson : I think that the better question is: "What isn't wrong with the internet?"

Jeff Ledger : Here's a thought. You wouldn't take your four year old to the park and drop them off unsupervised, and return in an hour to pick them up. Why would you allow your four year old to surf youtube and other Internet sites without supervision. It's called PARENTING.

angry teapod : how to fix this 1.use your usb and download cartoons you trust 2.dont use internet 3.profit.

Evelyn Lee : It makes me genuinely depressed to know that children will grow up and this will be their nostalgia 😞

cherry Top : The 4k dislikes were probably from people uploading these wierd videos!

Springlock Gamer : When was little, I watched SpongeBob, Nick Jr, and PBS kids. Little Kids these days are really missing out...

Tallulah The Conquerer : I was a child YouTube user in 2008. It wasn’t very kid-friendly. I think I watched a lot of cat videos and satire on the 2008 election, which I wanted to understand. I also wanted to know why everybody was so focused on this Osama Bin-Laden guy...

Gabriela Hernandez : 4.1k dislikes from angry toddlers

Asarcus : People who swear or play rated M video games get demonetized, yet these kids channels make these videos and make a large profit.

Soldrakenn : wow, this was the best stuff I've seen in a looooong while, finally someone who actually talks about the deep connection between things and not just moralise whatever! great.

Peace & Love : If YT can ban Alex Jones, they can certainly ban these channels targeted at children ... but they won't.

bitesizefirst : Finally an intelligent TED speech again, interesting views on this phenomenon of constant media abuse bombarding us. Most people don't get this though it's exactly these low level parenting skills from lazy parents that plant their kids behind a computer or hand them an ipad so they shut up for a few hours so they can live 'proper'. Than they have the audacity to expect they'll turn out to be o so special. . . because I am willing to bet that instead of these algorithms the view count started by parents looking stuff up for their kids and say hey go watch this for a while ..mommy and daddy have to do so and so.

FruitRollUp : I look down on parents that cram a tablet into their children's hands just to shut them up don't have kids if your just going to turn them into zombies!!!!!

ashley liu : And to think in 15 years there's gonna be kids going like "this was my childhood"

nick.k.06 : I was just born in 2006, and I could have been one of those kids that had parents that would just sit them in front of the screen for hours on end, and I am so grateful my parents didn't do that cause then those kids who had that happen to them are gonna grow up to be spoiled little brats... just a random thought...

Fifi Healthbody Healthymind : I don't let my sons watch those videos

paul w : this is all capitalism-- endless production for endless exploitation and dumbing down. Parents and the state have been promoting this for a century and few have noticed its disastrous effects It's just more efficient with media

Aamna Here : I am in my mid 20s and grew up not just without ipads and the internet but also without a cell phone. The first time I got a nokia one was when I was 18. I can't imagine giving my child an ipad or a phone when they are toddlers. People think it makes them smarter but it doesn't. It just makes them sharper and reduces their attention span. I have seen 2 years old's attached to their iPads as if their lives depended on them and the parents gave it to them to have more uninterrupted time for themselves or to quieten a crying baby. No matter how interesting and informative some stuff can be for them, it's more important to encourage them to befriend books, playing outside and getting their hands dirty, drawing, camping, hiking, traveling, cooking, swimming, learning to dance, cuddling and interacting with friends and grandparents. They'll grow up to be healthier individuals than perpetually hunching over an IPad jumping from one video to another which actually makes a child and even adults sometimes, not appreciate and have fun with what they have seen but anxious to watch 'more'. In the quest of more and more, we forget to enjoy the small happy moments in life. It's not just about lack of monitoring but the activity itself that's unhealthy to rely upon at such an impressionable age.

Anika : not even teachers know how to turn off autoplay

Kwint : glad 2018 is almost over. This was by far the worst year in my life because of just pure cancer like this dude describes.. im praying 2019 will be better

Serenity Williams : What bothers me is the fact that YouTube was originally gor teens, not children. Now people make videos saying "watch what your kids watch on YouTube." They shouldn't even *be* on YouTube in the first place!!! Those children who've decided to download it with that rating, you must be a badass that sleeps at 9:01 when told to at 9 o'clock.

lobster : 5:14 (bottom right) Why would that be directed at children?

Liz Skelton : Yes my daughter loves these videos ( she’s 2 1/2) she’s not allowed to watch them anymore, because some of these give her naughty ideas. She dumped a whole jar of change on the floor and in her doll house, because they did something similar on the YouTube shows.

Lesbian Amazon Sister : I remember the good ol’ days when watching “Happy Tree Friends” was considered seriously messed up. Man, I miss that.

AdrielFox : This is how you know our new generation are doomed.


The Cringe Is Real : Even though I was born in 04, I barely missed all of this horror a decade earlier *whew*

I am a person : Me: watching this ON YOUTUBE