World Bulletin / News Desk
YouTube on Friday unveiled a new app built specifically for children.
Called YouTube Kids, it will feature parental controls, a safer search and hours of children’s entertainment.
Like most websites, YouTube’s terms of service dictate that all users must be at least 13 years of age or older. However, that flimsy requirement doesn’t stop parents from letting younger children use the service and there are hundreds of channels packed with content specifically for children.
The fact that parents often use it doesn’t make YouTube kid-friendly, though. Children browsing through the service are often only a search, autoplay or click away from inappropriate content.
That is why Google’s YouTube saw a need for YouTube Kids, where the content is curated and parents can easily control a child’s use of the app.
YouTube Kids allows for parental controls like time limits and removes the oft-vulgar comment section from videos. The search feature also won’t permit inappropriate queries—if a user attempts to search for “sex,” for example, the app will respond with a message to try something else.
The format is even skewed toward young children. The images are enlarged for small, somewhat clumsy fingers and there is a voice search for those still learning how to spell.
YouTube Kids has been months in development and is a sensible business move for the service. According to the company, it has seen 50 percent year-over-year growth in overall viewing time, but for channels focused on family entertainment, growth has been closer to 200 percent.
Of course, the app will have to deal with more regulation as well because it is meant for children younger than 13 years of age. For example, Google would have to notifying parents if the software is collecting personal information on children.
YouTube Kids launches Feb. 23 and will be available only on Android devices, for now.