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Little Baby Bum , which made the above video, is the 7th most popular channel on YouTube. With just videos, they have accrued On-demand video is catnip to both parents and to children, and thus to content creators and advertisers. The first of these tactics is simply to copy and pirate other content.


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I am not alleging anything bad about Play Go Toys; I am simply illustrating how the structure of YouTube facilitates the delamination of content and author, and how this impacts on our awareness and trust of its source. As another blogger notes , one of the traditional roles of branded content is that it is a trusted source. This no longer applies when brand and content are disassociated by the platform, and so known and trusted content provides a seamless gateway to unverified and potentially harmful content. Yes, this is the exact same process as the delamination of trusted news media on Facebook feeds and in Google results that is currently wreaking such havoc on our cognitive and political systems and I am not going to explicitly explore that relationship further here, but it is obviously deeply significant.

When some trend, such as Surprise Egg videos, reaches critical mass, content producers pile onto it, creating thousands and thousands more of these videos in every possible iteration. A striking example of the weirdness is the Finger Family videos harmless example embedded above. Once again, the view numbers of these videos must be taken under serious advisement. A huge number of these videos are essentially created by bots and viewed by bots, and even commented on by bots. That is a whole strange world in and of itself.

What I find somewhat disturbing about the proliferation of even relatively normal kids videos is the impossibility of determining the degree of automation which is at work here; how to parse out the gap between human and machine. The example above, from a channel called Bounce Patrol Kids , with almost two million subscribers, show this effect in action.

It posts professionally produced videos, with dedicated human actors, at the rate of about one per week. Once again, I am not alleging anything untoward about Bounce Patrol, which clearly follows in the footsteps of pre-digital kid sensations like their fellow Australians The Wiggles. Other channels do away with the human actors to create infinite reconfigurable versions of the same videos over and over again. What is occurring here is clearly automated. Stock animations, audio tracks, and lists of keywords being assembled in their thousands to produce an endless stream of videos.

This very indeterminacy and reach is key to its existence, and its implications. Its dimensionality makes it difficult to grasp, or even to really think about. Much has been made of the algorithmic interbreeding of stock photo libraries and on-demand production of everything from tshirts to coffee mugs to infant onesies and cell phone covers. The above example, available until recently on Amazon, is one such case, and the story of how it came to occur is fascinating and weird but essentially comprehensible. The fact that it took a while to notice might ring some alarm bells however.

Nobody set out to create these shirts: they just paired an unchecked list of verbs and pronouns with an online image generator. Once again though, the people creating this content failed to notice, and neither did the distributor.

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They literally had no idea what they were doing. Once again, a content warning: this video is not inappropriate in any way, but it is decidedly off , and contains elements which might trouble anyone. This warning will recur. The title alone confirms its automated provenance.

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Again, this is weird but frankly no more than the Surprise Egg videos or anything else kids watch. I get how innocent it is. The offness creeps in with the appearance of a non-Aladdin character —Agnes, the little girl from Despicable Me. As many of the Wrong Heads videos as I could bear to watch all work in exactly the same way. It goes on and on. I get the game, but the constant overlaying and intermixing of different tropes starts to get inside you. The question becomes: how did this come to be?

As well as nursery rhymes and learning colours, Toy Freaks specialises in gross-out situations, as well as activities which many, many viewers feel border on abuse and exploitation, if not cross the line entirely, including videos of the children vomiting and in pain. Toy Freaks is a YouTube verified channel, whatever that means.

I think we know by now it means nothing useful. As with Bounce Patrol Kids, however you feel about the content of these videos, it feels impossible to know where the automation starts and ends, who is coming up with the ideas and who is roleplaying them. In turn, the amplification of tropes in popular, human-led channels such as Toy Freaks leads to them being endlessly repeated across the network in increasingly outlandish and distorted recombinations.

Here is a relatively mild, but still upsetting example:. A step beyond the simply pirated Peppa Pig videos mentioned previously are the knock-offs. These too seem to teem with violence.

In the official Peppa Pig videos, Peppa does indeed go to the dentist, and the episode in which she does so seems to be popular — although, confusingly, what appears to be the real episode is only available on an unofficial channel. In the official timeline, Peppa is appropriately reassured by a kindly dentist.

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In the version above, she is basically tortured, before turning into a series of Iron Man robots and performing the Learn Colours dance. Disturbing Peppa Pig videos, which tend towards extreme violence and fear, with Peppa eating her father or drinking bleach , are, it turns out very widespread. They make up an entire YouTube subculture. All the 4chan tropes are there, the trolls are out, we know this. I kind of hope it is. I understand that most of them are not trying to mess kids up, not really, even though they are. Obviously this content is inappropriate, obviously there are bad actors out there, obviously some of these videos should be removed.

Obviously too this raises questions of fair use, appropriation, free speech and so on. But reports which simply understand the problem through this lens fail to fully grasp the mechanisms being deployed, and thus are incapable of thinking its implications in totality, and responding accordingly. YouTube Kids, an official app which claims to be kid-safe but is quite obviously not, is the problem identified, because it wrongly engenders trust in users. But as with Toy Freaks, what is concerning to me about the Peppa videos is how the obvious parodies and even the shadier knock-offs interact with the legions of algorithmic content producers until it is completely impossible to know what is going on.

There is a lot of effort going into making these. More than spam revenue can generate — can it? Once again, I want to stress: this is still really mild, even funny stuff compared to a lot of what is out there. Here are a few things which are disturbing me:. The first is the level of horror and violence on display.

Eat it enthusiastically yourself and make it delicious with a little grated cheese perhaps for your kids. Children detect falseness a mile away, so believing in what you're doing is an integral part of leading by example.

source So, if you want your child to be respectful and kind, be sure you exhibit those behaviors yourself, even when you are angry or in a disagreement. You, the parent, are the number one role model in your child's life. Showing -- rather than telling -- them how to behave and navigate the world around them is the most effective method. One of the biggest problems with parenting advice is that one size does not fit all. As Elkind points out, "the same boiling water that hardens the egg softens the carrot The same parental behavior can have different effects depending on the personality of the child.

If you have more than one child, you have probably noticed that not only do their personalities vary greatly, but other variables like sleep habits, attention spans, learning styles, and responses to discipline can also be extraordinarily different between children. Your first child may look to you constantly for comfort or encouragement, while your second may need nothing of the sort, preferring to forge ahead on his own. Some children respond better to firm boundaries while others need less definition. Therefore, it is important to remember that what worked for one does not necessarily work for the other.

The same is true when it comes to what you needed as a child vs. You might have been a child who was constantly on the go and required a lot of active play, but your child might prefer quiet, mellow play. Keeping these differences in mind as you raise your own kids is key -- it's not easy, since it requires you to keep learning and reevaluating, rather than relying on your own experiences and memories. But parenting with the needs of each child at the forefront will go a long way for your and your children's development.

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Most parents have a general idea of the things that are OK and aren't OK in their households, but what you do when rules are broken can really make a difference between teaching your child a lesson and simply making them angry and resentful. When something unexpected pops up, some people take it in stride while others don't take it so well. But according to Dr. George Scarlett, deputy chair at the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University, one way to "mess up" your kid is to lose track of the larger context and all the other variables that are part of the environment in which you raise your child and in which your child exists.

For example, if your child sneaks a violent video game or R-rated movie, it isn't the end of the world, assuming you're basically providing a positive, supportive surrounding to raise your child. Scarlett says that "parents letting kids play video games with violent content and parents spanking provide examples of what I mean. If you just look at the correlations, you might conclude these two are bad ideas, but look closer, and it seems these two are fine for most when embedded in good contexts and caring parenting.

Scarlett adds that "the overall message might well be this: that particular methods, habits, and behaviors aren't as important as parental attitudes and abilities to take child's point of view as well as that of an adult. Despite old-school wisdom, it is virtually impossible to spoil your baby by being attentive to their needs or holding them in your arms for much of the day. Tovah Klein, director of the Barnard Toddler Center at Columbia University, underlines that "you can't spoil a baby by holding them or responding to them too much.

Research shows just the opposite. Babies who receive more sensitive and responsive care so their needs are responded to become the more competent and independent toddlers. Holding your baby in your arms or in a sling, responding to cries, and comforting them when they're frustrated can only help. After all, babies cry for a reason: it's a signal that something is amiss and they need mom's or dad's help to fix it.

Knowing that mom or dad is there to make right the things that go wrong creates a sense of security that stays with them as they grow. For older kids, there's a balance between being responsive and being over-responsive to their mishaps. For example, when children fall down, they often look to the parents to see how they should respond. When parents overreact to a skinned knee, the child will, too. But when parents respond in a laid-back way perhaps saying, "Oops, you fell. Looks like you're OK, right? But for young babies, it's almost impossible to over-parent. So, if you're inclined to keep your baby on your chest rather than in a carrier, go ahead.