A Melbourne three-year-old has narrowly avoided seeing a disturbing YouTube Kids video of a beheading when she was watching Peppa Pig.

News Corp reported the incident last week.  According to the article, the girl’s mother had selected a Peppa Pig video and was streaming it onto the TV for her to watch.

“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 article said.

Not the first report of disturbing YouTube Kids content

This type of violence on YouTube Kids isn’t new. Earlier this year there were similar reports about horrifying content on YouTube Kids. There were reports of fake cartoons that looked like Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol.

Most say the cartoon starts normally enough. However, after a few minutes, some inappropriate content such as violent or sexual content is shown. There have been reports of defecation, porn and even beheadings in the middle of kids videos.

Is YouTube kids safe for my preschooler?

The App store says YouTube Kids is appropriate for children 4 and over. However, Common Sense Media (a US nonprofit that provides information about technology use for kids) has different advice. They say children under 7 shouldn’t be using it and only then with parental supervision.

Parents may assume that a team of people hand-select the content for YouTube Kids but that’s not the way it works. It’s just a portal to the main YouTube service. Google (the owners of YouTube) says a ‘mix of automated analysis and user input’ filters out the adult content. Which means mistakes can (and do) happen.

A spokeswoman told News Limited: “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.”

They now have an ability to turn off search which means children are limited to videos verified by YouTube kids. However, they admit: “Please keep in mind that regardless of the settings for Search in your app, there is a chance that your child will find content that you don’t want them to watch.”

Australia’s Esafety Commissioner Julie Inman Grant told News Corp that she was aware of these types of disturbing YouTube kids videos.

“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,” she said.

What’s a safe YouTube Kids alternative?

It was these fears that led us to create Birde. Birde was designed specifically for young children. All the content is sourced by us so you know it’s safe, educational and completely appropriate. Plus there is no access to the internet so no chance they will watch something inappropriate.

What is Birde?

Birde is the world’s first smart media player and high-quality speaker. It allows children to choose their own music, video or audiobook content.

Content (from providers such as ABC Kids, Counting with Paula, StoryBots and more) comes on little disks we call ‘Birde Seeds’. Children tap the content on the Birde and the music or audiobooks play. Then you can sync the Birde with your Smart TV to watch video.

With Birde, you can feel confident that your child is watching something completely safe. We are launching later this year – sign up to our newsletter to find out when we launch.