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YouTube Kids: everything you need to know

YouTube Kids launched in the UK in November 2015 as a service suitable for younger children with age-appropriate content. As of April 2018 it has gone under some major changes. What do you need to know about YouTube Kids?

What is YouTube Kids?

YouTube Kids is an app developed by YouTube aimed at delivering age-appropriate content to young children. The app is available on Android, iOS and some Smart TVs. 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 will now have some human curation, by the YouTube Kids team, and allow for greater parental control.

What type of content can you expect to find on YouTube Kids?

YouTube Kids offers free-to-watch content. This content is made freely available by having advertisements run before videos. Content on YouTube Kids ranges from cartoons to nursery rhymes and from toys reviews to music videos.

Currently, the channel with the greatest number of subscribers, 16.8 million, on YouTube Kids is “ChuChu TV Nursery Rhymes and Kids Songs” which produces animated versions of popular children’s rhymes as well as its own songs and educational videos. The second most subscribed channel, with 15 million subscribers, is LittleBabyBum which is another channel centered on animated nursery rhymes.

YouTube Kids also offers a paid for service called YouTube Red. This allows children to watch original content produced by YouTube as well as seasons of cartoon favourites such as Postman Pat.  

Are there parental controls?

YouTube Kids offers several options and settings to allow parents to curate and control the content that their child can view.

  • The ability to turn-off the search function.
  • A timer that limits screen time by disabling the app once a session, whose length has been determined by a parent, has ended.
  • The ability to clear watch and search history and so reset the videos that appear under the “Recommendations” and “Watch it again” sections.
  • The ability to pause watch and search history. Doing this means that videos your child watches or terms that they search for will not influence what appears in the “Recommendations” and “Watch it again” sections.

What parental controls are currently being rolled out?

The ability for parents to choose “Collections”: YouTube Kids will now include “collections.” These will be groups of videos on a variety of subjects curated and provided by YouTube and its trusted partners. This will allow parents to reduce the content offered on YouTube Kids to only that on topics, and from YouTube partners, they deem appropriate. This feature can currently be accessed through “Profile Settings”.

The ability for parents to allow their children to only view content they have themselves approved: This feature offers an even greater step in parental control than 'collections'. This feature will only allow content, whether a video or a channel, chosen by the parent themselves to be available for their child through the YouTube Kids app.

An improved “Turn Search Off” Function: YouTube Kids has always offered parents the option of turning off the search function in app. However, until now, this still allowed all videos from the YouTube Kids’ wider bank of videos to appear on a child's recommended videos list. Now, whilst the search function in turned off, only those videos approved by the YouTube Kids team themselves will appear on children’s recommended list.

What are some of the concerns surrounding YouTube Kids?

Advertising

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.

Does YouTube collect my child’s data?

YouTube Kids does not collect a child's personal data, such as name, contact details and home addresses. However, it does collect data on what a child is watching to inform their individual recommended videos list. The app also collects data, for example, on what device the app is being used on and what version of the app is being used.

 

Further reading:

Netflix Review

Amazon Video

What does Ofcom do to protect your child?