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Press Release

December 17, 2008

PTC Analysis of YouTube Finds Explicit Content is One Click Away from Children

Popular Child-Friendly Terms Like “Hannah Montana” Give Kids Easy Access to Sexual Content and Explicit Language


LOS ANGELES (December 17, 2008) – In its first analysis of online media, the Parents Television Council™ found that extremely graphic content and harsh profanity are just a click away for kids entering seemingly innocent search terms on YouTube, the most popular destination for online video that has undertaken several policies to control inappropriate content. The PTC’s latest study, The “New” Tube, not only analyzes content in 280 of the most popular YouTube videos between March and October 2008 according to Compete Data Hub, but also takes into account the text commentary and advertisements that were available alongside the videos.


“Just as the number of entertainment options is growing by leaps and bounds with new and emerging technologies, so too are the risks that parents face when trying to protect their children from inappropriate material. Our study today marks the PTC’s first foray into analyzing content in digital media, and as such we wanted to help parents with the most popular online video resource – YouTube,” said PTC President Tim Winter.


“While we applaud YouTube for its commitment to gating procedures and its recently announced plans to curb inappropriate content, the core implication of our analysis is that the site isn’t doing enough to protect kids.


“Children who use YouTube to search for video clips of their favorite stars like Miley Cyrus and the Jonas Brothers are exposed to some of the most offensive profanity in the English language. Video searches for these popular terms showed that YouTube’s gating procedures do not extend to text commentary. 


“And despite YouTube’s policy of not hosting sexually graphic videos, entering any number of popular search terms produced videos linked to ads for triple-X pornography – often without even requiring age verification.

“With nearly half of boys and a third of girls ages 13-17 naming YouTube as one of their top three favorite websites, no parent can afford to ignore these findings.  The results of this study should serve as a wake-up call for any parent concerned about graphic or indecent material on websites they perceive to be ‘safe’ for their children,” said Winter.

Major Findings:

Children entering such “child-friendly” search terms as Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers, High School Musical and Hannah Montana were confronted with highly offensive content in the accompanying text commentary posted by other site users:


  • Viewing 20 YouTube videos under each “teen idol” search term produced a total of 422 instances of explicit content within the text commentary that accompanies the videos.

  • An average of 68% of those comments included profanity and 31% of the profanity was of the most offensive nature (e.g. the f, s, and b-words). 


The 20 highest-ranked YouTube videos from each of the site’s most popular search terms yielded an extraordinary amount of graphic and adult-themed content:


  • For example, 98 percent of the videos analyzed under the popular search term “Lil Wayne” did not require any form of age verification, despite containing high levels of explicit adult content. In fact, 50 percent of the videos that were associated with the rapper featured verbalized non-muted expletives, including the s-word, b-word, several variations of the f-word, and explicit references to human anatomy.

  • Twenty-eight percent of the videos resulting from the search term “porn” did not require any form of age verification.


“YouTube’s status as the leading site for online video combined with the fact that more and more children are consuming entertainment media outside the confines of a television set underscore our demand for more responsibility,” Winter stated.

“The Parents Television Council urges YouTube to take its commitment to being a ‘safe’ site even further by implementing new policies that extend to user comments, advertisements and InVideo links. These policies should be augmented by formulating and adopting a thorough, accurate and transparent content rating system that would allow parents to block material they deem inappropriate for their children. In addition, we call on advertisers who support YouTube to carefully evaluate the content they are underwriting with their advertising dollars,” Winter concluded.

Click here to view the full study.

To speak with a representative from the Parents Television Council, please contact Kelly Oliver (ext. 140) or Megan Franko (ext. 148) at (703) 683-5004.

The Parents Television Council™ (www.parentstv.org®) is a non-partisan education organization advocating responsible entertainment. It was founded in 1995 to ensure that children are not constantly assaulted by sex, violence and profanity on television and in other media. This national grassroots organization has more than 1.3 million members across the United States, and works with television producers, broadcasters, networks and sponsors in an effort to stem the flow of harmful and negative messages targeted to children. The PTC also works with elected and appointed government officials to enforce broadcast decency standards. Most importantly, the PTC produces critical research and publications documenting the dramatic increase in sex, violence and profanity in entertainment. This information is provided free of charge so parents can make informed viewing choices for their own families.




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