February 25, 2021
Google’s YouTube is rolling out a version of its video service that will allow parents to supervise the viewing of tweens and teens that have outgrown YouTube Kids but aren’t quite ready for the unrestricted video platform. Currently, children under the age of 13 in the U.S. are legally barred from regular YouTube. The new option lets parents set up a managed account for children and teens that will prevent them from uploading videos or commenting. Parents will also have different content filters to restrict video viewing.
Variety reports that YouTube, which unveiled YouTube Kids (below) for those 4 to 12 years of age in 2015, heard from parents that they needed a product aimed at tweens and teens. YouTube director of product management for kids and family James Beser noted, “as children grow up, they have insatiable curiosity and need to gain independence and find new ways to learn, create and belong.”
In the “coming months,” this new category of supervised accounts will enter beta in 80+ countries via supervised Google Accounts. Beser added that, “users on supervised YouTube accounts won’t see personalized ads or ads in certain categories and won’t be able to make in-app purchases.”
Other features include parents’ ability to “access their kids’ viewing and search history … [and] also use other controls offered by Google’s Family Link, including screen timers.” The supervised YouTube version will provide three content settings: Explore, Explore More and Most of YouTube, “with content filtered based on a mix of user input, machine learning and human review to determine which videos are included.”
The Explore setting features “a broad range of videos generally suitable for viewers ages 9 and up, including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content and more.” Explore More is targeted at viewers 13 years old and up, and includes “an even larger set of videos, and also livestreams in the same categories as Explore.” Most of YouTube “will contain almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content, and it includes ‘sensitive topics’ that may only be appropriate for older teens.”
Beser reported that the versions were created in collaboration with “parents and experts in child safety, child development and digital literacy,” and includes a “getting-started guide for the new parental-controlled experience with National PTA, the UK’s Parent Zone, Google’s Be Internet Awesome initiative and other partners.”
“National PTA appreciates YouTube advancing age-appropriate experiences, as well as implementing settings that enable families to choose an experience that feels appropriate for their child,” said National PTA president Leslie Boggs.