From its earliest days, YouTube has been a site for people over 13, but with increased family content and the rise of shared devices, the likelihood of children watching without supervision has increased. When YouTube Kids was launched in February 2015, the goal was to create a place where kids could access enriching and engaging videos to explore their endless interests. We rejoiced when the brand announced that parents would have more control over content but lost our trust over concerns about YouTube Kids safety.
Questionable content that masqueraded as kid-friendly caused YouTube Kids to reassess policies, products and practices related to content, safety, and filtering.
As the brand has grown, it’s evolved.
3 Important YouTube Kids Safety Updates Parents Will Appreciate
YouTube continues to recommend parents use YouTube Kids if they plan to allow kids under 13 to watch independently.
In the second half of 2019, updates were made to make YouTube Kids better and safer for all. Here’s what you need to know about these recent changes and how they can help your kids be safer while enjoying the videos they love.
YouTube Kids Content is Manually Approved
YouTube Kids is a filtered version of YouTube. Videos in YouTube Kids used to be populated by automated filters built by the engineering teams.
Last year parents were up in arms about dangerous YouTube Kids slipping past technology, software, filters, and algorithms and I get it. Whenever YouTube or YouTube Kids is in the news for controversial content, we feel betrayed for trusting a brand that puts our kids at risk.
There’s no substitute for a human touch. Algorithms will never know our kids like we do. Filters can’t catch everything we don’t want our kids exposed to in life.
YouTube Kids understands this too because they’re parents themselves.
Over the past year YouTube Kids has added a human component to their review process. Here’s the official word from YouTube Kids:
We work hard to keep videos on YouTube Kids family-friendly and use a mix of automated filters built by our engineering teams, human review, and feedback from parents to protect our community. We are constantly working to improve our safeguards and offer more features to help parents create the right experience for their families. But not all videos have been manually reviewed. If you find something inappropriate that we missed, you can flag it for fast review. This makes the app better for everyone.
They also raised the bar for which channels can be a part of YouTube Kids, drastically reducing the number of channels on the app.
But if you, or your child, happens to find something inappropriate that the YouTube Kids team missed, you can always block it or flag it for fast review.
YouTube Kids Available on the Web Too
Gone are the days that YouTube Kids can only be accessed from mobile devices through the iOS or Android app. Now YouTube Kids is on the web at YouTubeKids.com so it can be used on laptops and desktop computers and watched anywhere.
Parents who access YouTube Kids on the web can use their Google accounts to sign in. By signing in, you get more controls over the YouTube Kids experience.
You can create a profile for each child and select among the 3 age categories (more on that below!) to have age appropriate videos served to your child or choose your own. Videos are recommended based on what your kids watch and search for as they use the app. New users don’t get recommendations until YouTubeKids has learned about the kinds of content your child enjoys watching.
Just like in the app, the web version allows families to block any videos and channels you don’t like, manually approve videos, and set a timer.
The built-in timer tells kids to stop watching via a friendly alert and is a helpful way to teach your kids to limit screentime in favor of digital wellbeing.
By signing in using your Google account when using YouTubeKids.com, your kids’ profiles are always ready to go!
Select from 3 Different Age Groups to Choose the Right Content
YouTube recognizes that no two families are the same. What may be great content for a 3 year old isn’t such great content for a 8 year old or even an 11 year old. Since every family is different and every child is different, YouTube Kids has three different age groups for parents to use when choosing the right content for their kid:
- Preschool (ages 4 & under) is designed to allow kids to watch videos that promote creativity, playfulness, learning, & exploration.
- Younger (ages 5-7) is designed to allow kids to explore their interests. This age group can search for a wide variety of topics, including songs, cartoons, crafts, & more.
- Older (ages 8-12) is designed to allow kids with growing independence to search & explore additional music videos, gaming, family vlogs, science, and more.
Based on the age level you select, the search results will also be limited to content recommended for kids in the preschool, younger, or older mode. YouTube Kids’ systems work hard to exclude content not suitable for each of these age categories. Read more about the new age settings here.
You can still choose Approved Content Only so that your kids are only able to watch videos, channels and/or collections that you’ve hand-picked and approved. In this mode, kids won’t be able to search for videos.
These recent changes to YouTube Kids are welcome. They give us even more control over the content our kids love and the reassurance that there are people working behind the scenes to ensure only the best content get in front of our young viewers.
Is YouTube Kids perfect? The honest truth is that it’s getting there.
We’re always quick to criticize technology when it doesn’t work like it should or it jeopardizes our kids safety. I can say YouTube Kids has come a long way since its introduction to the world five years ago but we should still never trust the technology behind YouTube and YouTube Kids to be the parents we should be.
For more tips on YouTube and YouTube Kids safety, check out my past posts below!
Have older kids who are watching YouTube? Be sure to read my post, Important Conversations to Have with Your Kids About YouTube Content.
I have been a member of the YouTube Kids Parent Panel since 2005 but am not compensated for my involvement. All opinions are my own and based on personal experience.