YouTube Kids launched in the UK in November 2015 as a video streaming service suitable for children, with age-appropriate content.
Here's everything you need to know about YouTube Kids.
What is YouTube Kids?
YouTube Kids is an app developed by YouTube which aims to deliver age-appropriate content to children. The app is available on Android, iOS and some Smart TVs. You can also access YouTube Kids as a web page, rather than an app, here.
Until recently, the content that appeared on the app was predominantly curated by computer-algorithms and essentially the app was a filtered version of the regular body of videos available on YouTube.
However, the app now has some human curation, by the YouTube Kids team, and allows for greater parental control.
Why is it so popular?
YouTube Kids offers free-to-watch video content (alongside adverts, which are preceded by "bumpers" that highlight an advert is about to play). Content on YouTube Kids ranges from cartoons to nursery rhymes, and toy reviews to music videos.
Currently, the channel with the greatest number of subscribers (123 million, as of December 2021) on YouTube Kids is "Cocomelon – Nursery Rhymes", which depicts animated babies and animals going about life, all accompanied by songs.
What do parents need to be aware of?
YouTube Kids offers several settings to allow parents to manage content their child can view. Parents can choose which level of content they want to make available for their child, from ‘nursery school’, ‘younger’, and ‘older’. By progressing through the different age levels, parents can adapt viewing settings as your child grows up.
Parents can also turn off the search function, so that only those videos approved by the YouTube Kids team themselves will appear on children’s "Recommendations" list.
Other useful controls to be aware of include the ability to set a timer that limits screen time, disabling the app once a session of a set length has ended, and the ability to pause or to clear watch and search history. Clearing this will reset the videos that appear under the “Recommendations” and “Watch it again”.
Parents can also choose specific ‘collections’ for their child to watch. This will allow parents to reduce the content offered on YouTube Kids to only that on topics or from creators they deem appropriate.
Blocking and reporting
You can block individual videos or entire channels using YouTube Kids’ blocking feature. This can be found by going to the 'more' icon at the top of the video. Once there, you'll have the option to either block just the video or the whole channel.
You can also report a video. Whilst reporting won’t immediately remove a video, it will flag it and moderators will respond to your concern.
When the YouTube Kids app was released, it advertised to children in a similar way to how it does for regular viewers of YouTube. This led to outcry from some US-based campaign groups who claimed that children were unable to clearly differentiate between adverts and video content. In response, YouTube instituted a bumper period between advertisements and videos.
YouTube Kids does not collect a child's personal data, such as their name, age or contact information. However, it does collect data on what a child is watching, to inform their individual recommended videos list. This can be paused or disabled via the parental controls available. The app also collects other data on, for example, what device the app is being used on and what version of the app is being used.
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This article was last updated on 15/05/23.