Opinion: Supervise Your Kids Online Or Stop Complaining About What They're Finding


Welcome to the internet — please supervise your children

Photo by Daniel Jensen on Unsplash

To catch you up, someone created a very disturbing character called “Huggy Wuggy.” I’ve seen a photo, but I refuse to watch this character and his rows of razor sharp teeth. This is some scary-ass shit, kids. Potentially traumatizing, even for adults.

It seems that a major number of children have stumbled upon this video, and moms and dads and caregivers across the world are pissed off and frankly, “just so…hurt.”

I mean…don’t you know how you have harmed their child?

Okay. Now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s talk about how the internet works and reiterate the responsibilities that fall upon someone caring for a child.

I don’t expect you to watch your kid 24/7. It’s not possible. It’s not practical. And what you may need to do as a caregiver is not necessarily the same as what another person needs to do.

All kids are different.

As a parent or caregiver, it’s up to you to determine how much baby-proofing you want to do, whether you’re working with an infant or a 17-year-old.

For instance, it’s pretty standard to put some sort of fencing around the pool, right? Some people don’t, and while it’s easy to criticize them it should also be noted that a fence around the pool is not a substitution for the mentality that if a child opens the door to the backyard, you need to have eyes on them.

Strangely enough, after 2+ decades of experience caring for children with zero major incidents on my watch (physical or mental) I can tell you confidently that most parents are negligent in ways they can’t even comprehend of.

So let’s talk about the internet because it is both a major issue here and incredibly simple to adjust.

You’re not gonna like this, but I don’t think the stories of kids accidentally ordering $2k TVs off amazing are that charming or funny. Your kid should not be on your cell phone, and if they are, consider this your reminder to sign out of amazon.

Will some mistakes still happen? Sure. But…not as many.

Similarly, if your kid is on a device with YouTube, and they’re of an age that you do not want them to have access to adult material, there are about 1000 ways to protect them.

My nanny family briefly had YouTube for Kids on the little’s ipads. It was pretty lame; we couldn’t access any of the things they wanted like episodes of TV shows, educational videos, etc. It was mostly a lot of fluff and there was this terrible elevator music in the background.

But it was safe and a good option for if/when there is less supervision.

And the truth is, when I was not in their home, they did not have close-monitering. They had normal-busy parents with major blind spots.

At some point — while I was not with them, my older nanny kid came across some idiotic video (on regular YouTube) about the Teletubbies — it was about weird urban-myth connections to the colorful bearlike characters.

I found out pretty quickly that the kids had stumbled onto this video and they insisted on showing me. It was incredibly creepy, and obviously none of it was true.

But just like that, my older nanny kid (eight at the time) could not be in a room by himself for six months without a major meltdown. He couldn’t sit anywhere facing away from certain walls in the house — this was some major emotional warfare for a little kid.

You know who does not deserve any blame for this? The people who made this super weird creepy video.

Unfortunately, a lot of parents are reportedly really mad at the makers of Huggy Wuggy. But here’s a reality check: Huggy Wuggy is not for kids.

If your kid can find Huggy Wuggy on their device, you know what they can also find? PORN.

And are you going to yell at the pornographers or the internet-safety lawmakers if/when your kids come across videos of people having sex? Well, you might, but would that serve your situation?

Or, perhaps, would you be better served by being proactive about keeping your kids away from porn…because while it exists, it’s not actually difficult to avoid.

We all need to be aware that adult content exists. There’s no surprise here.

What did Huggy Wuggy do to you? Nothing. You only found him if you went somewhere that was not designed for kids. Is the person who made him messed up in the head? It’s possible. He looks scary.

But with all due respect, as an internet-stranger pal…you’re out of line and they did nothing wrong or unethical.

Now, had they categorized Huggy Wuggy as a kid’s show, you have an argument there. Had they made it so Huggy Wuggy is accessible from the highly censored YouTube Kids app? That would be a problem.

Unfortunately, because of H.W.’s widespread fame, some folks have taken to talking about him and making “remix” videos on YouTube and TikTok. Again, while it’s not weird for your kids to be on these sites, but they should be supervised.

In fact, this should be a helpful and timely reminder that if they can find H.W. they can also find explicit sexual material- probably nothing too graphic, but definitely enough to mess them up even more than a scary muppet with jagged teeth.

The other day I was trying to search for something with the word title, but apparently the keys stuck and created a space after tit. Want to know what came up? NO YOU DON’T! And neither did I.

But I wasn’t mad at anyone. Even if I was a child typing in a title, it was just a few links to things I had no interest in.

And that’s a lesson that must be taught to all children using the internet.

I’m sorry…maybe I’m missing something. Let’s go back for a second and check something here: Have you given your child access to the internet without explaining that most of it is made up of things that are not for them?? Have you not had any safety briefing or talked about what to do if something comes up that is upsetting?

I hate to be harsh but if you cannot handle the internet, you don’t belong here alone.

Similarly, someone who has not learned to walk through a room carefully does not belong in a big ol’ knife store. It’s not personal, it’s just safety 101.

Remember in Edward Scissorhands when good ol’ Eddie starts giving ladies in the neighborhood haircuts? He had to learn how to do that safely without harming himself or others.

It’s not that this issue is something to brush off like it’s nothing. It’s not that it’s not important! It is important!

It’s relevant to talk about things that have made it into the public eye- an explicit billboard, an outrageous show on network tv, etc.

But if you have to search for something, I’m gonna go ahead and say that falls into the category of what you, as a caregiver, are responsible for avoiding.

Some have speculated that because of the way it is categorized, H.W. might make it into the safe haven of YouTubeKids and frankly, I’d be surprised. However, if that becomes the case, that is cause for concern.

And why? Because, YouTubeKids is intended to be a safe place for kids. YouTube, however. (And TikTok, SnapChat, Google, Yahoo, etc) are not places for young people to show up unsupervised, especially without a major briefing about how to keep themselves safe.

As some parents have suggested, there is a major issue with negligence here. But what we all need to understand is that it’s about the negligence of caregivers failing to protect their kids.

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Writer, Performer, Activist. Founder of That's What She Didn't Say: Creating Healthy Conversations About Challenging Topics.

Los Angeles, CA

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