Experts warn of inappropriate videos disguised to target your children, hackers accessing webcams

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - Technology can be a great tool for your kids, but it can also be dangerous. Inappropriate videos disguised to target your children have been popping-up online over the past several months via YouTube. Some say it's poison disguised as children's videos and it's been dubbed "Elsagate."

It usually starts off with innocent popular cartoon characters, like Elsa from Frozen or Peppa the Pig as a hook. But in just minutes, it switches to violent and graphic scenes you probably don't want your children to watch.

These videos have been slipping past parental controls and feeding children inappropriate content by popping up on the recommended list. YouTube is aware of this issue, and employees have terminated a number of the channels. The problem is, there are more than one billion YouTube users and hundreds of videos uploaded every minute. As a result, it's difficult for regulators to keep up.

That's why experts say parents need to be aware of this and take ownership of this problem. Horry-Georgetown Technical College cybersecurity professor Stanton Greenawalt recommends setting the restricted mode on YouTube, which you need to do for every browser you have. Also, flag any inappropriate video you see online and check out the viewing the history option on YouTube.

"It desensitizes the child to what is normal and what is acceptable… and that's what they're after. They're trying to get you to get used to something that's normal, so that the next step becomes worse than the step that they're currently on… and that's what they're doing. So we as parents, we as members of the community, have to come up with a way of saying loosely defining what normal is, and what's really acceptable for viewing. And the 8-year old's, 9-years-old's aren't capable of doing that, so you have to make them a part of the process, and be aware that no matter how often they're watching YouTube, they're going to get exposed to inappropriate material," said Greenawalt.

Some popular online video games your kids are playing at home could potentially put them at risk. The dangers of the digital age continue to grow and now experts are warning you how to protect yourself from hackers who may be watching through your webcams.

Security experts say parents need to arm themselves with information, to protect your kids from deceptive videos and games on the internet. You may not even know it, but you could be a potential victim of a hacker invading your own privacy and accessing your computer's camera. One way to protect yourself is simple. Just take anything, like a piece of paper or tape, and cover up your camera on the computer.

Most people realize that there's a potential danger when surfing the internet, but experts say children usually don't. So, it's important to protect your kids through education and extra safety procedures.

Researchers say online games usually requires a server integration, and through that, hackers can access personal information and access your PC. They can even turn on your camera without even having the light on.  Hackers can also access your computers through unknown email attachments.

Most people by habit may leave their computers turned on and open. That's why experts say whenever your computers are not in use, shut them off.

It's also important to know how to control your camera when purchasing a computer. On Windows 10, for example, you can have complete control of your camera through its privacy settings. Experts say it's important to have an anti-malware system on top of an anti-virus system. They also say, since we live in a digital age where we're all connected through the internet, threats could get worse.

"Well I think it's going to get worse, and here's why, because we have a thing called internet of everything, or internet of things. Everything's going to have ... your refrigerator, your cars, your doorbell, everything's has some type of access or camera access… and now the microphones, you know I go home and I talk to Alexa and I talk to Siri, and if you don't turn them off, they may be listening, Facebook is famous for that. So, the microphones are also an issue. So, there's just a lot of things you have to be aware of when you walk home, when you want to relax…. you've got to shut certain things off," said Greenawalt.

If you ever do feel that your safety online is at risk, experts recommend calling your internet provider and reaching out to your local police department.

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