Soon to be available in the UK, YouTube’s video viewer app for children called YouTube Kids is already proving a hit with parents, despite only launching at the end of February. YouTube Kids is currently only available in the US but with good reviews already flooding in, it won’t be long before the app is available in other countries worldwide.
YouTube Kids is the results of data that shows that videos are being watched for longer periods by more children, as the viewing time for family entertainment content grow by over 200% in 2014. There has also been pressure from parents for YouTube to create a service suitable for children that will block inappropriate content.
The free app is available for iPhone, iPad and Android devices and features four categories of videos- shows, music, learning and explore, to bring together the best of children’s content from TV characters to nursery rhymes and education. The explore section of the app collects videos from other sections including things such as toy unboxing, cooking and tutorials. One of the draws of online videos versus live TV is that children can choose what they want to watch and when, tuning in to their own interests while avoiding programs and subjects that they don’t like. This app gives them the freedom to have that choice but in a safe digital environment where parents need not worry about leaving them alone.
Along with big buttons and limited scrolling to make the app easy to use, there are also some helpful features for parents to enable them to keep a watch over content being viewed. Parents can disable the voice and tap activated search function as well as set a timer which prevents children from watching videos for too long. With these useful functions along with the fact that the app hides comments on videos, parents should feel safe knowing that their child will not be able to come across anything unsuitable. In order to make the app free and available to everyone, videos are interspersed with ads but these too are tightly monitored to make sure they’re family friendly and suitable for kids.
While parents may worry about information being collected about their child, Google have removed the possibility for users of the YouTube Kids app to log in or sign up for an account, so it collects no identifiable information about the child or their viewing habits. In the US, the app follows the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act which has strict rules about collecting data from online services that can be used for children under the age of 13. However in countries with other laws or even a lack of laws about online privacy and marketing towards children, Google may choose to run the app differently.
It was announced this week that the YouTube Kids app will come pre-loaded onto all new Kurio tablets in the US. Kurio builds Android devices made especially for kids, so this move is surely a sign of the support that the new app is already receiving and we may see it preloaded onto more devices before the end of the year.
YouTube Kids has been a long time coming for many parents who could see the possibilities of YouTube for entertaining and teaching their children, but did not yet have the faith to be able to leave their child unsupervised while watching videos. But now children can be left to enjoy videos without parents worrying that they may see something unsuitable. So far, the only need for improvement is that Google speeds up the launches in other countries so that YouTube Kids can be available worldwide.