On February 23, YouTube made a huge forward leap in setting themselves up as family-friendly entertainment. They introduced YouTube for kids in a kid-friendly app that is available on iOS and Android devices in the United States.
There are more than 300 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute and monitoring that material is a difficult task. The YouTube Kids App gives children a safe place to view videos that have been vetted for child appropriateness.
YouTube for Kids: Designed by Parents
This new app, allows children to surf the plethora of videos available without encountering those of questionable content. YouTube Kids gives them access to age appropriate viewing materials.
Shimrit Ben-Yair, the project’s group product manager states that family-friendly viewing is a growing business on YouTube, “we’ve seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200%.”
“Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids”
“We’re as focused on kids’ safety as you are, so we’ve built the YouTube Kids app to be a family-friendly place to explore,” Shimrit Ben-Yair, the mother of two wrote in a blog post shortly before the apps release.
YouTube Kids took several months of hard work and programming and was created with input from a variety of sources including in-house engineers with parenting credentials and third-party testers such as Common Sense Media.
The YouTube Kids app is easy to use with a simple interface. The Kids app has eliminated distracting elements such as comments while adding a feature that many parents will be grateful for, a parentally controlled timer that will shut down the app after a set amount or time.
The home screen is geared towards the younger generation and consists of several screens that highlight images of popular kids shows. Above the images are four easy-to-understand icons;
- A TV set for viewing childrens programming,
- A radio icon for music videos of popular kid-friendly songs,
- A light bulb for educational programming, and
- Binoculars, which enable a search through a variety of child-friendly programming
“The images are big as are the tap targets for small fingers, and since most younger children can’t type they can search with voice,” says Ben-Yair.
To make it easier to find their favorite programs, or new programs, channels and playlists have been split into four categories, shows, music, learning, and explore.
Children can also search for content using the keyboard or through voice input. The search function is also geared with a child-friendly sensor. If an inappropriate word such as ‘sex’ is entered into the search field they will get a pop-up screen that prompts them to “Try something else.” If parents are still uncomfortable with their children having a search function, they can disable it in the parental controls.
If a parent wishes to limit their child’s viewing time they can go into settings by use of a password and set a timer. The program can not be turned back on until that password is entered.
In the parental controls section there is also an audio option that lets you turn off the background music before it drives you up the wall.
They also have a feedback section where you can suggest new content or changes that you feel appropriate for YouTube Kids.
Child Friendly Content
There is a variety of kid approved content including DreamworksTV, Jim Henson TV, National Geographic Kids, Sesame Street and Thomas the Tank Engine. They are also working on original programming just for the kids. Unfortunately there will also be age appropriate ads in the YouTube for kids, so expect your child to start singing the praises of a new toy or to want something new between each episode.
More to Come on YouTube for Kids
…And judging by a Google blog post that describes YouTube Kids as “the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind,” I think we can expect to see a lot more child friendly Google tools in the near future.