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What Do You Do When Your 2yo Knows How to Navigate YouTube?

My two year old daughter, like many toddlers I’ve heard, is obsessed with the iPad. Specifically YouTube. So much so that regular television just won’t do.

What do you mean, I have to watch the entirety of Sesame Street and not flip to the next video as soon as Elmo leaves the screen???

She also believes that every picture or icon on my phone or computer leads to a world of videos. Which in turn leads to another world of videos. Which will eventually lead her to her new obsession— a Polish-dubbed Barbie video where everyone is getting dressed up for a red carpet event.

When we first let Mazzy try the iPad, we put a bunch of Sesame Street videos under “favorites” (her television viewing is limited to PBS only) so they were easily accessible to her. We never imagined that at two-years-old, she would use those videos to find other videos (new favorites that we had not pre-selected for her) and then memorize the paths to get there (Elmo to Dora to Strawberry Shortcake to Polish Barbie for example). Now I watch Mazzy click on several videos and quit them immediately because she is using each of them solely to get to the next set of available videos.

It is both interesting and worrisome to see how her tastes have evolved in just a few short months through no influence of ours whatsoever.

One of her new favorite videos is an animated version of Hansel and Gretel using Mickey and Minnie Mouse as the main characters. It is incredibly dark (a witch traps them, feeds them, tries to cook them, all scored to ominous music) but Mazzy loves it and seeks it out regardless. I told her it was “scary” but now every time she finds it, she looks at me excitedly, points to the screen and says, “Mommy! Scary!” with a big smile.

My sister (who has a doctorate in school psychology) told me that at this age, Mazzy is too young to process the scary tone of the video and it shouldn’t do her any harm, so I let it go.

But there are other videos creeping up that have me flying across the living room to stop play as soon as possible. Like Annoying Orange where every episode ends with a screaming fruit being sliced with a cleaver. Or a Barney video that Mazzy stumbled upon where Bart Simpson shoots the singing dinosaur down with a machine gun. That particular video gives me exactly 12 seconds to hurdle the coffee table and press pause before Barney is left lying in a pool of his own blood.

Clearly, this YouTube access must be monitored more closely.

I am already enforcing stricter iPad time limits and uploading more educational games to keep her occupied— but how to control YouTube usage remains a mystery to me.

Mazzy knows the YouTube icon, so any time she gets her hands on a smart device, that is exactly where her little fingers go. And sitting next to her as she plays with it (sorry if this makes me sound like a bad parent), kind of defeats the purpose.

YouTube does have parental controls that block sexually explicit content, but as far as Alec Baldwin screaming bloody murder at Dora the Explorer— that’s just a few simple clicks away from Ernie singing to his rubber ducky in the bath.

Does your toddler use your iPad or know how to navigate YouTube? How do you limit their usage?

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For anyone that doubts Mazzy’s YouTube competence, below is a video I made using footage of her from 16-20 months. Sadly, her proficiency has only increased.

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7PHjAyXFg5Y&list=PLFB8EF29D6B216573&index=6&feature=plpp_video[/youtube]

Read more of Ilana’s writing at Mommy Shorts.
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