It is a fact that a lot of children love to watch videos on YouTube especially YouTube Kids with a colorful environment, much high quality, interesting and friendly videos. However, YouTube Kids was hit by concerns about advertising, branded content and inappropriate clips such as pornographic and violent content. So is Youtube Kids safe for kids? Let’s find out with us.
What is YouTube Kids?
YouTube Kids is the kids version of YouTube, with TV shows, music, educational videos, and user-generated content tailored for kids. YouTube Kids is designed for kids from preschool to 12 years old and is available as an app and website.
YouTube Kids allows parents to create individual user accounts for each of your kids, so kids can log in and watch videos that are appropriate for their age. One of the best features of YouTube Kids is screen time, which allows you to set a limit (up to 1 hour) for your child to use the app.
What age group is YouTube Kids suitable for?
On the app store, YouTube Kids is for children aged 4 and up. However, besides advertising, commercial products/services and the possibility of watching inappropriate videos are also widespread that children can fully access these types of content. That’s why parents should consider their child’s age and watch videos with them often.
What types of videos are there on YouTube Kids?
- With “Shows” feature: Youtube Kids has clips and full episodes of popular children’s shows like Winnie the Pooh and Thomas and Friends.
- With “Music” feature: Children’s songs from classical to contemporary.
- With “Learning”: Access to education-focused clips from sources including Khan Academy, PBS Kids, and TED-Ed.
- With “Explore”: It’s home to user-generated content with toy-related videos (including lots of unboxing clips) and a host of kid-friendly content. However, most videos kids watch are primarily entertainment, not educational content.
Is YouTube Kids safe for kids?
Misleading Ads on Youtube Kids
It’s no wonder that ads are extremely popular not only on Youtube but also on YouTube Kids with frequency appearing in 95% of videos. The problem with the ad is that it includes banner ads that block educational content, ads that appear in the sidebar which can confuse suggested videos.
Besides that, there are ads for video games that show up as images of famous characters that have been edited to trick viewers. One solution is that if a parent subscribes to YouTube Premium, there will be no ads and kids can watch it offline. However, kids will still have access to branded channels from snack or toy companies.
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Risks of access to pornography and violence
Nothing is completely safe, and neither is Youtube Kids. Despite being short, children are still at risk of seeing nude/sexual, violent content that is not appropriate for their age. Research shows that 27% of videos watched by children under 8 are intended for an older audience, with violence being the most likely type of negative content.
Youtube Kids uses algorithms to filter out adult content and feed children’s content into Youtube Kids. But videos that don’t quite match can pass that algorithm. Since the app’s launch in 2015, Google has improved its management efforts by using human monitoring to review videos flagged as inappropriate on YouTube and providing videos that are “verified” for Youtube Kids.
Risks of accessing other negative content
Besides pornography and violence, the videos will be able to use familiar characters from children’s TV shows.
A common scenario is videos with child-friendly titles that prompt children to click on them. The beginning of the video is normal, but then it gets weird and even downright unsettling. Whoever created these videos – called YouTube Poop – has figured out how to use tags (codes that help Google categorize content) to fool the algorithm.
While inappropriate videos are more common on the main YouTube channel, there have been sporadic instances of disturbing videos appearing on YouTube Kids, including the trend of “how to commit suicide” stitched together in an animated video.
How can parents better protect their kids on YouTube Kids?
Set up Parental Controls on YouTube Kids
After signing in with your Google account, you can create a personal passcode to access the app’s settings. The app allows configurations for up to 8 kids, each with their own avatar and settings, including time limits and a personal passcode for each child so they can’t access each other’s profiles.
It’s important for you to decide if you want to let your kids search apps freely or rely on age-based content settings (under 4, 5–7 and 8–12) and video which will be filtered to suit each age. Selecting “Content Approval” yourself turns off search and instead shows Video Collections, which have been verified as age-appropriate.
Use online content filtering tools
As mentioned, there is no such thing as a 100% safe tool or entertainment product even if it is labeled for children, so you need to proactively better protect your children by using online content filtering tool to filter harmful content such as:
- Pornography: both real-life nude/sexual content and comic content (hentai)
- Horror content: images/videos of gore, accidents, violence, murder, ghosts, etc
- Content related to addictive substances and stimulants such as alcohol, ecstasy, drugs, etc.
Regularly watch videos on Youtube with your children
As with any media product that contains user-generated content, you should closely supervise and watch with your child when possible. If you find a disturbing video, you can block it to make sure it doesn’t show up again. You can also report this content, which will alert YouTube of inappropriate content so it can be reviewed and removed if necessary.
Watching videos with your child also helps you strengthen your family bond and is one of the opportunities you need to seize to teach your child what is and isn’t right for them.
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