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Parents concerned after YouTube channels show explicit content

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. - For a lot of kids and teens, YouTube is now a primary source of entertainment.

But some videos, targeted to young viewers, are raising eyebrows. Some describe these “children’s” videos as inappropriate…bordering on perverse.

CBS4 has chosen not to mention specific titles or sites because, we’ve been warned if we mention the names, viewers will inevitably click on them and, will drive the numbers up for those sites.

Dee Sutton is a mother of two young children who access videos all the time on their tablets.  But, that changed when she discovered the videos they were watching were using some popular characters doing questionable activities.

Some characters engaged in sexual activity, violence and in some cases, drug use.

“it’s a way to engage youth,” says Chris Newlin of the National Children’s Advocacy Center.

Newlin does not see these videos as adult art or even crass entertainment.

He’s concerned producers are targeting children, using characters to normalize deviant behavior and groom children for abuse.

CBS4 contacted Indiana State Police Cyber Expert Chuck Cohen, who has seen these videos.

“They may not be videos that you might find that meet the standards of your family, they may not be the standards I have for my family, for my children. But at the end of the day our question is, is it lawful conduct?  And it is lawful.,” says Cohen.

Cohen says these videos are not pornography, but they are controversial.  CBS4 asked representatives from YouTube about these videos, which are on their site.

They issued the following statement:

“We are always looking to improve the YouTube experience for all out users and we ask our community to flag any video that they believe may violate our community guidelines.  Additionally we recently updated our advertising policy to clearly indicate that videos depicting family entertainment characters engaged in inappropriate behavior are not eligible for advertising on YouTube.”

Nonetheless some of these children’s videos have thousand and thousands of views. Advertisers could be lured with that many clicks.

“Being a YouTuber is a profession,” says Chuck Cohen. “It’s a way that you can make not just a living, but a good living. And often times  it’s done by advertisements.”

Google says it acts quickly to remove offensive videos when they are reported, but policing will always be a battle.

“It’s like whack a mole,” says Chris Newlin. “As soon as any company starts to do something, another mole is popping up.”

Newlin and Cohen both urge all parents to get informed and have honest age appropriate conversations about what children might find.

“It’s part of an important dialogue that parents need to be having with their kids,” says Newlin.

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