YouTube’s darker side

February 1, 2018

Do you talk to your pediatric patients about what they are watching on YouTube and other video sites? Maybe you should be.

Ask any child where he or she gets online entertainment and there’s a good chance he/she will say “YouTube.” From tutorials to gaming videos, the YouTube platform has radically changed since it first launched on February 14, 2005. Gone are the shaky home videos uploaded to share with family and friends, now replaced by slickly edited video designed to appeal to advertisers.

Not every YouTube channel fits the kid-friendly image the site propagates. In early January 2018, Logan Paul, one of the biggest “stars” on YouTube with nearly 20 million subscribers, many of them teenagers, posted a video from his trip to Japan. During the video, Paul and his friends visited the popular Aokigahara forest and discovered the body of a person who had completed suicide. An image of the body was used in the video’s thumbnail. In the video’s opening, Paul explained that he would make no money from it, but then claimed the contents were going to make YouTube history.

Paul’s video garnered 6.3 million views within 24 hours of upload and was featured on YouTube’s trending list. It also earned the fury of members of the YouTube community, celebrities, and politicians. Paul subsequently removed the video while insisting that the video’s intentions were for suicide prevention, and then he posted an apology video. The original video is still available via censored uploads from other users.

Many believe that Paul’s channel should be removed from YouTube, and find YouTube’s response-removal from the company’s preferred ad program and canceling Paul’s YouTube premium offerings-to be severely lacking.

Do you talk to your pediatric patients about what they are watching on YouTube and other video sites? Maybe you should be.