Google has launched a free, family-friendly version of the mobile YouTube app for both Android and iOS devices, finally meeting widespread demand for a safe, age-appropriate platform for children. The new app, ‘YouTube Kids’, will filter out content deemed unsuitable for young consumers, and won’t allow access to the comments section on videos.
The official blog post describes YouTube Kids as “the first Google product built from the ground up with little ones in mind.” It features a simpler, child-friendly design, and full parental controls. These controls include a timer, search settings, and even a feedback option.
In terms of the content that will be on offer, YouTube has partnered with renowned entertainment companies such as Dreamworks, Reading Rainbow, Jim Henson and National Geographic Kids. There will also be videos created by native YouTube stars. YouTube Kids uses algorithms first to sift through any content that might be deemed too graphic or mature; anything that makes the grade is then curated or vetoed by a dedicated quality control team.
What’s most surprising is that it’s taken Google this long to launch YouTube Kids; “Parents have been asking us for years to build a friendlier version of YouTube for families,” admits product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair, who also states that YouTube’s family entertainment sector has grown by 200% in the last year.
This long wait has enabled other platforms, such as Playkids TV, Jitterbug.tv and Happly to hit the market – but the brand recognition wielded by Google is sure to bring a decent portion of that audience back into the fold. It won’t have escaped anyone’s attention that getting younger viewers to engage with a kiddy-safe version of the site will yield a new generation of YouTube users in just a couple of years.
YouTube Kids is currently only available in the US, and is far from the finished product. There is little to no customisation on the app, meaning parents can’t refine searches for the age of their child (a fundamental requirement for a family-friendly platform, you might assume). Rather, this is simply the first incarnation of YouTube Kids, a product for which there is a definite market.