YouTube Kids is a solution until it’s not

Cool news for all parents: There’s now a child-friendly version of YouTube. It was released this week in the United States but European launches are yet to be announced. YouTube Kids is an app that shows only videos that are ok for any kid to see.

Google says that YouTube Kids app is built from the ground with little ones in mind. That is great: it’s too often that kids end up using services designed for grown-ups. When the product is made for kids from the start, kids get positive experiences.

So what’s different in YouTube Kids compared to the normal YouTube? The videos are carefully filtered so there’s nothing that’s not ok for kids to see. Comments are hidden completely. The search is more simple and has a voice recognition system for the smallest kids. There’s also lots of parental controls for limiting the time of use and so on.

All this works great for the young kids. 3-4 year olds will have a blast with the app. Getting older, kids need a bit more.

When the solution becomes the problem

Something happens when the kids hit school age. Favorite bands become important, and some want to make their own videos. Both of those things could be a problem with YouTube Kids. All content goes through strict filtering, meaning music videos and videos uploaded by less-known users might not make the cut. At least there will be a waiting time.

For years, YouTube has had a safety mode. It aims to filter out the worst videos, making the video selection more appropriate for kids and preteens. Our product Momio also has a YouTube page where kids can watch fun videos. We’re doing a lot to minimise bad content. Before ending up on Momio, the videos run through YouTube’s safe search and our own word filters. Our staff also deletes videos that are deemed inappropriate.

In the end, we can offer lots more videos than YouTube Kids. We think the good outweighs the potential bad here. Posting videos is a way to build your identity, and our method allows the kids to show off their favorite music videos, films, jokes and celebrity clips – and most importantly, the videos they made and uploaded to YouTube themselves.

Even if YouTube Kids is not the solution for all kids, we welcome it to the market. If we could make one wish, we hope that YouTube takes the learnings from the Kids app and with them, improves the safety mode even further. That would be for the good of children everywhere!

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About the author:

Silja Nielsen, watAgame

Silja Nielsen is Head of Community and Safety at watAgame. She has been a watAgamer since 2010. Silja has a master’s degree in Media Studies and is interested in privacy, online behaviour and online communities.