For most parents, leaving a smartphone device or a laptop to a kid can be hard because you do not know how he/she will use it. But you do not have to worry about that
For most parents, leaving a smartphone device or a laptop to a kid can be hard because you do not know how he/she will use it. But you do not have to worry about that anymore. YouTube has started creation of kid-friendly content though their website www.youtubekids.com. They also provide a kid-friendly application that you can install on your mobile device for your kids to enjoy appropriate content. You can choose the right content for your child depending on his/her age and track his watching and browsing history. The app will also flag any content that is not good for the child.
The FTC announcement
Interestingly, YouTube, which is a Google-owned video website, launched the kid’s version with less fanfare. However, it emerged that the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) settlement official announcement included multimillion-dollar penalties against YouTube for the violation of US children privacy laws.
Another company that the FTC regulation board targeted was TikTok, which paid a penalty of $5.7 million and implemented age-gate gaps on their app. Perhaps, their ruling on other websites like YouTube was similar. The announcement of FTC ruling was not without precedent. And in addition to the launch of the children’s version of YouTube, Google made many other changes to their YouTube protocol. That includes introduction of Preschool filter or groupings on the youtube kids video.
The content to expect on YouTube Kids
Google has divided the YouTube Kids videos into four categories – the Recommended, Music, Shows and Learning. All the categories feature curated content that Google select from the channels they have proven to be appropriate for kids. In August 2016, Google updated the app to start supporting their YouTube Red, now the YouTube Premium subscription service, to allow ad-free playback, offline playback and background playback for the subscribers.
And in February 2017, YouTube started introducing premium series such as Fruit Ninja: Frenzy Force, DanTDM Creates a Big Scene, Kings of Atlantis and Hyperlinked, which were suitable for kids. They also published several advocacy campaigns on YouTube kids. Some of the playlists they used to promote the site include #ReadAlong (which is a series of videos involving kinetic typography to promote literacy) the #TodayILearned (a series of STEM-oriented videos and programs) and Make it Healthy, Make it Fun (which is a collaboration of Pau Gasol and Marc) to promote healthier living and active lifestyles for children.
Later in November 2017, Google updated the website to include extra user interface modes for different age groups. They ranged from simplified interface, suitable for young children and the dense interface – ideal for the older children. In September 2018, Kids YouTube added another age group option associated with the content offered through the app, which is the “Younger and Older” to maintain the mix of content they offered. The Older option added more content from various genres like gaming, nature and music. In August 2019, they split the Younger setting to add Preschool group with the aim of encouraging creativity, learning, playfulness and exploration.
The Centre for Digital Democracy (CDD) and the Campaigns for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) have expressed concerns over publishing of advertisements on YouTube Kids app. They argue that children have no ability to distinguish the ads from the offered content. YouTube later added short bumpers to this app for children with the aim of separating the content from advertisements.
The app offers parental control settings that allow parents to set the time limits and restrict the users from accessing any search tool. As a parent, you can use your Google account or passcodes to protect all the settings or configure the profiles for many users and offer customized experiences.
The expected filtering issues
The kids youtube app from YouTube has been facing criticism over accessibility of videos that are not appropriate for their target audience. For example, the CCFC has filed FTC complaints over the app citing several examples of inappropriate videos that kids can access through the search tools and the “Recommended” pages using search history. YouTube has defended the criticism arguing that they worked with advocacy groups to make the app and they are open to feedback about the operation of the app. Elsagate, a large YouTube controversy, was associated with the Kids Video YouTube app. It refers to channels that post videos containing characters from the most popular franchises like Paw Patrol, Frozen, Spider-Man and Peppa Pig but with violent, disturbing and sexually suggestive themes and content.
Malik Ducard, the head of children and family content on YouTube, admitted that one of their primary goals is to make the app family friendly and that this service was not curated, which meant that each parent has to use the offered parental control features to control the browsing of their kids. One of the helpful features includes disabling the search tools. The director of CCFC, Josh Golin argued that YouTube’s automated algorithms were inadequate and the users would not choose the best YouTube videos for kids and the entire process needed manual curation. Josh also argued that this new model has introduced something so vast that people are uploading around 400 hours of video content each minute. That is very big considering that parents are raising many issues on forums and social media.
In November 2017, Google announced that they would take more steps to filter and review every video that the users reported as containing inappropriate content. They would start using more effective age-restriction and content filtering systems to prevent appearance of any inappropriate video on the Kid’s app or kid friendly youtube videos. They added a disclaimer to the official YouTube for Kids site stating that they cannot guarantee the appropriateness of any video that they did not curate manually and advising parents to block or report any video that they do not find appropriate for their kids. They then expanded the option further in the year 2018 by adding an option to restrict the users to their recommendations and the human-reviewed channels. The new system supported manual whitelisting.
YouTube for kids
YouTube Kids app is one of the family friendly places for kids who would want to explore the available video content. YouTube determines the videos available on the app through algorithmic filtering, human review and user input. All the videos you will find on the homepage are pre-selected and they have to pass through an extra level of control through human review. So, the app is worth trying.