With concerns repeatedly raised about the content made available to kids via the YouTube Kids app, YouTube has this week announced some new tools to help parents better control what their kids are watching, while also separating YouTube Kids listed content into new, age-appropriate categories.
The first new option is 'parent-approved' content, which enables parents to hand-pick, and exclude, specific channels within the app.
As you can see here, the new option enables parents to take control by selecting the 'Approved content only' channel filter. Once selected, parents will be able to control exactly which content their children can view.
As explained by YouTube:
"Parents can choose any video, channel or collection of channels they like by tapping the "+" button. Parents can also search for a specific creator or video. If parents choose to enable this mode, their kids will not be able to search for content on their own."
Of course, that means that parents also need to know which channels are producing questionable content in the first place, which is not always so easy. But still, the option adds an extra level of control for parents, which should help ensure kids are more protected against potentially questionable material.
In addition, YouTube Kids content will now also be split into an older, 8-12 year-olds category, which will include additional new content, like popular music and gaming videos.
"If parents think their kids are ready, they can pick this "Older" version when setting up a new profile or updating an existing profile. The "Younger" version is the default content experience and will continue to have a wide selection of sing-alongs and age-appropriate learning videos. Parents can change between "Younger," "Older" and parent-approved content at any time."
YouTube Kids, which serves more than 8 million weekly active users, is a particularly important initiative for YouTube, because it helps to form usage habits from a younger age. These days, kids don't separate YouTube viewing from normal TV consumption - YouTube is TV. The more the platform can foster this, the better off it will be in the long run, as it gradually moves to surpass legacy entertainment platforms.
Given this, it's important that YouTube works to reassure parents, and ensure adequate controls are in place to keep young viewers safe. YouTube has been working to add in new tools to detect and remove abusive content more broadly, and this is arguably even more important among younger usage brackets.
The new 'Parent approved' content picker is available now on Android, and coming soon to iOS, while the older YouTube Kids experience is now being rolled out in the U.S., with global expansion planned for the near future.