YouTube Launches Parental Control Features for Kids Service

Since YouTube debuted YouTube Kids three years ago, parents have complained about their ability to control the content. Now, the company is adding three features to respond to those concerns. A white-list feature parents requested allows them to handpick the content for their children. The company also introduced pre-screened content with partners, including, initially, Sesame Workshop and PBS Kids. Third is an option to set search settings to only permit channels “verified by the YouTube Kids team.”

Variety reports that these three features are “in addition to the app’s existing ability to let parents disable search entirely.”

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“While no system is perfect, we continue to fine-tune, rigorously test and improve our filters for this more open version of our app,” said YouTube Kids product director James Beser. YouTube’s policy to be more proactive was sparked after reports of some “disturbing videos that use children’s characters in freakish, violent or sexual situations.”

Now, moderators “will evaluate vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and the portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities.”

YouTube, which says YouTube Kids is for younger children, “disables accounts if it becomes aware that a user is under 13” and restricts “advertisers from targeting personalized ads to children under 13 or from collecting personally identifiable information from children who are underage.” According to Google, YouTube Kids “has generated more than 70 billion views to date and has more than 11 million weekly active viewers.”

Variety reports that, “a coalition of consumer groups earlier this month filed a formal complaint with the FTC, alleging that YouTube illegally tracks data on kids who are under 13.”

TechRadar notes that the problems with YouTube Kids arose from “a mixture of nefarious uploaders looking to game the system with dodgy, copyright-infringing content and a lapse in the algorithm [that] meant that some videos available to view through the service should never been seen by children.”

It adds that, “YouTube in its post doesn’t actually address any of the controversy over the app, but does acknowledge that it isn’t foolproof when it comes to safeguarding children from the wrong type of video.” YouTube also encourages parents to “block and flag videos for review that they don’t think should be in the YouTube Kids app.”

Related:
YouTube, Facebook Use AI Tools to Curb Unwanted ContentETCentric, 4/25/18