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  • Mom Says Her 7-Year-Old Daughter Learned About Suicide Through Online Videos and Games

    Is it still possible to have a safe space in today’s digital age?
    by Cielo Anne Calzado .
Mom Says Her 7-Year-Old Daughter Learned About Suicide Through Online Videos and Games
To read this story in Tagalog, click here.
  • It has become a familiar sight — kids tapping away on a tablet or a mobile phone as a weekend reward or to pass the time. Aside from setting a limit to screen time, parents try to add restrictions to the online content their kids are consuming. But it seems no matter how we closely monitor the sites they go, there are still instances when they are lead to the dark side of the web when they are inside what we think is safe content.

    A concerned mother from Utah, United States, felt compelled to share an incident involving her 7-year-old daughter as a way of warning fellow parents when it comes to giving kids access to YouTube Kids, Roblox, and Fortnite.

    “This is an exceptionally hard thing for me to post. I’ve thought long and hard about this. I’ve decided it’s way too important not to bring awareness to other parents. This is not up for criticism. I only want to let all parents watch for,” mom Meridy Leeper shares on Facebook.


    “My 7 year old child was taught how to attempt suicide by [YouTube Kids] and these games [Fortnite, Roblox]. She has expressed that she doesn’t feel neglected or unloved. Instead, she was constantly told to ‘go kill yourself’ by other gamers [YouTube Kids]. Shown HOW to. Sunday night, she had a full blown anxiety attack,” Meridy continues.

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    By Monday, her daughter drew a disturbing picture in school, which Meridy also included in the post. Read it in full below:


    Meridy’s post generated heartfelt messages from fellow parents and even strangers who stumbled upon her Facebook page. In another update, she shared she has received messages from a child counselor, a woman based in Canada, and even news stations who want to help her raise awareness about online gaming bullying.

    “The abundance of comments from friends, family and strangers…others sharing their stories of heartache in similar situations. THIS is how social media should be used. To bring hope and help those in need,” she shares.


    Aside from bringing her daughter to a counselor, Meridy’s daughter’s teacher has been giving her constant updates as well. In a report published by Kidspot, Meridy shared her therapist told her if she hadn't intervened and got help, her daughter would have tried taking her life.

    Being aware of the dangers of online surfing can help you protect your child.

    Meridy's story is not the first time parents and child advocates have called out the effects of online games and the proliferation of alarming videos. An article on Wired has exposed channels with violent themes that use well-loved characters like Minnie Mouse and Peppa Pig. Kids can easily access these videos with taps on any mobile device.

    The same article states, “Content for preschool children, in particular, can be lucrative for ad-funded channels, as small children will readily watch and poke at whatever videos YouTube suggests while harried parents are often unable to fully supervise every minute of their child’s media consumption.”


    Whether you grant your kids access to the Internet on weekends or you’re on the fence about it, an article written by Caroline Knorr for Common Sense Media can guide you how to navigate Youtube Kids. According to the article, “inappropriate videos can make it past the filters, and users have reported seeing nudity, alcohol, and profanity, as well as fast food and junk food ads that push unhealthy eating.”

    Parents can report and block these videos by setting parental controls. “The main parental control setting is the ability to allow your kid to search for videos in the app or not. (It’s safer not to.) You can also clear the history and pause your watch history, which mainly affects how the app serves up videos.” Forbidding them to search for videos lessens the chances of disturbing videos popping up on their feed.

    It’s best to be present whenever your child uses his tablet or computer. Block and report any disturbing content immediately to make sure it doesn’t appear again. Knorr’s article on explaining disturbing news to young kids also details tips how to go through such incidents, depending on the age of your child. What’s important is you’re present when your kids have questions and that you can clarify whatever they watch or read on the Internet. Lastly, it’s a must to check in on them. Ask them how they’re doing or if there’s anything bothering them. Similar to Meridy’s story, intervention can make a huge difference.

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