Finally! It’s the news that parents have been waiting to hear— more control over content available through the free YouTube Kids app. Yesterday YouTube Kids announced new choices for parents to further customize content that appears through the YouTube Kids app. Features like collections, parent approved content, and improved search-off control will provide parents more granular control over content to ensure that the experience is just right for their child.
Since YouTube Kids launched three years ago, it’s been the goal of the company to give kids around the world a place to access videos that were enriching, engaging and allowed them to explore their endless interests. But this has come with some growing pains as the team has worked to improve the app experience for kids and families.
Now James Beser, Product Director for YouTube Kids, says “we’re putting parents in the driver’s seat like never before.”
Throughout the year, new YouTube Kids will roll out a robust set of tools for parents to customize their child’s experience through the app including:
- Collections by trusted partners and YouTube Kids: Starting this week, YouTube Kids partners and the YouTube Kids team will offer collections of trusted channels on a variety of subjects from arts & crafts and music to sports, learning, and more. This makes it easy for parents to select only the channel collections and topics they want their kids to access. Just go into Profile Settings, and select from available collections such as Sesame Workshop and PBS KIDS. YouTube Kids says they will continue to add more partners over time.
- Parent approved content: Parents know better than anyone what they want their children to watch. For parents who want even more control over the videos and channels in the YouTube Kids app, YouTube Kids is rolling out a feature later this year that will allow parents to specifically handpick every video and channel available to their child in the app. HANDPICK! That’s the ultimate in customization!
- Improved search-off control for an even more contained experience: Parents have always been able to turn search off within the YouTube Kids app, but starting this week turning search off will limit the YouTube Kids experience to channels that have been verified by the YouTube Kids team. This means that search off WILL NOT include recommendations from the broader YouTube Kids corpus. HOORAY!
For almost three years we YouTube Parent Panel members have been encouraging the YouTube Kids team to put more control in the hands of parents. As a mom and former teacher, I know that we parents know our kids best. The suggestions that you’ve emailed, DMed, and Tweeted to me for the YouTube Kids team have not gone unnoticed. I’ve shared your feedback and suggestions during our meetings and they’re listening.
“We’ve never stopped listening to feedback and we’re continuing to improve the app,” Malik Ducard, Global Head of Family and Learning Content for YouTube, told me. “In addition to all the work our teams are doing behind the scenes to make the experience the best it can be, we’re also offering parents even more options to make the right choice for their family and for each child within their family.”
The new changes are definitely a step in the right direction and while James Beser admits “no system is perfect” he says YouTube Kids is committed to “continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more open version of our app.”
What about inappropriate content?
In addition to the algorithms, YouTube Kids recognizes the need to invest in individuals and has a put a team in place to review flagged YouTube Kids content 24/7. While this should cut down on inappropriate content, “we encourage parents to block and flag videos for review that they don’t think should be in the YouTube Kids app,” James Beser said. “This makes YouTube Kids better for everyone.”
These features are welcome improvements but it remains important to talk to your kids about what they’re watching, favorite content creators, and more. Use what they’re watching to create conversation and connections. To help guide conversations about content on YouTube and YouTube Kids, read my past posts:
- Important Conversations to Have with Your Kids About YouTube Content
- Why You Need to Set Up YouTube Parental Controls.
I am a member of the YouTube Kids Parent Panel but am not compensated for my involvement. Images courtesy of YouTube Kids.