Parents are being warned to monitor the videos that their children watch online after a BBC investigation highlighted the availability of ‘spoof’ episodes’ of favourites like Peppa Pig.
The research, which questioned ‘is your child watching fake cartoons?’, found a number of YouTube channels hosting fake versions of popular shows, often with scenes unsuitable for a young audience.
‘Kids cartoons are hugely popular on YouTube,’ the video report reads. ‘But we found many fake versions of popular cartoons, including some which aren’t suitable for children.’
The footage then shows images such as Minnie Mouse cutting Mickey’s ear off, and an animated Spiderman snipping the back of a woman’s bikini with scissors.
Concerned father-of-two Keith White said: ‘There was an episode where I saw a popular character, I think it was Peppa Pig, they actually set fire to a house, with one of the other characters in it, to try and kill them.
‘These are things that, for a child to see, they’re not quickly going to forget that’.
Laura June, who has a three-year-old daughter, added: ‘The YouTube Kids app starts to recommend at the bottom underneath the videos and I heard something that didn’t sound right after she’d been watching for maybe 10 minutes one morning.’
The film then cuts to show an edited cartoon where Peppa is undergoing painful looking dental work and screaming as though in pain.
‘She was not aware, she thought it was Peppa Pig, she just wanted me to not take it away from her because she was engrossed in what the video was.’
Worryingly, many of the channels with this kind of material have managed to achieve billions of views.
A spokesperson for YouTube told the BBC: ‘Flagged videos are manually reviewed 24/7 and any videos that don’t belong in the app are removed within hours.
‘For parents who want a more restricted experience, we recommend that they turn off the Search feature in the app.’