September 3, 2019
Kid-friendly video content is now available on a dedicated YouTube Kids website that filters content deemed most appropriate based on three different age groups. The site offers a similar experience to the mobile app of the same name. Parents can select age-appropriate videos based on newly listed age groups, track viewing history and flag anything that may be missed by filters. A sign-in option is expected to be added in the future. The filters include “Preschool” (up to age 4), “Younger” (ages 5 to 7) and “Older” (kids over 7). Content is organized by categories including Explore, Gaming, Music and Shows.
While the sign-in option is not yet available on YouTube Kids, parents are able to set their own passcode to keep their kids out of the settings.
Last week, YouTube updated its child safety policies to remove “misleading family content, including videos that target younger minors and their families, those that contain sexual themes, violence, obscene, or other mature themes not suitable for younger audiences.”
The site’s launch “comes ahead of the official announcement of an FTC settlement which is said to include a multimillion-dollar penalty against the Google-owned video platform for its violations of U.S children’s privacy laws, COPPA,” reports TechCrunch. The ruling “will likely also require the same sort of age-gate, designed to redirect children under the age of 13 to a kid-safe, COPPA-compliant YouTube website where children’s personal information isn’t collected without parental consent.”
Earlier this year, the FTC ordered Musical.ly (now TikTok) to include an age-gate on its app. The agency also hit the social platform with a $5.7 million fine.
YouTube introduced age restrictions in the past to help protect children and even halted monetization for certain content, but some consumer advocacy groups argued that those steps were not enough.
“Organizations like the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) had asked the FTC to investigate YouTube, claiming that the company has been collecting personal information from nearly 25 million U.S. children for a number of years,” notes TechCrunch.
Some news outlets have indicated that the FTC ruling has been finalized, including a multimillion-dollar fine (The Verge reports that “Google will reportedly pay fines between $150 and $200 million”), while others have suggested that YouTube will also end targeted ads on video content intended for children.