The YouTube Kids mobile app is basically a “clean” version of YouTube.com with access to only family-friendly videos from sources like National Geographic Kids, Reading Rainbow, and Thomas the Tank Engine.
Here are some of the features of the mobile app:
- Kid-friendly design with large images, bold colors, and intuitive navigation.
- Voice search for kids who have trouble spelling or typing.
- Timer to limit screen time.
- Search settings that let you limit the results to only videos you have approved.
- Adjustable sound settings to keep the noise down during quiet times.
- Ability to watch videos, but not upload content or share or comment on videos.
- Clean search function. (If a kid enters in a search term such as “sex,” the app will reply, “Try searching for something else.”
As YouTube’s popularity with children has increased, so have concerns from parents. Although the site bans explicit sexual content, there are dark corners of YouTube where kids can accidentally end up. Although there is a safety mode on the regular website and apps, it is still easy for kids to stumble onto inappropriate videos or read bad comments.
YouTube Kids only plays a heavily-edited selection of videos. But since there is a huge amount of new kid’s content being posted daily, the app will also rely on the community to tag anything not suited for children.
This is the first Google product built from the ground up with children in mind. The YouTube announcement says, “For years, families have come to YouTube, watching countless hours of videos on all kinds of topics. Now, parents can rest a little easier knowing that videos in the YouTube Kids app are narrowed down to content appropriate for kids.”
Videos are divided into four categories. The Shows section includes popular channels like Sesame Street and The FuZees, which are some of the big name brands releasing new episodes for the launch. Music is stocked with videos including the sing-along version of “Let it Go,” which has been viewed more than 345 million times.
Learning and Explore sections let children watch user-generated content, dance how-tos, and old gymnastics routines. There are Minecraft walk-throughs, where a player narrates a video of their gameplay. On the popular DisneyCollector channel, a woman slowly unpacks toys such as princess figurines, describing each detail in a sing-song voice.
In addition to testing with kids and parents inside Google, YouTube shared the app with children’s advocacy groups like the Family Online Safety Institute and The Internet Keep Safe Coalition.
The free app does have ads specifically targeted at kids, but the ads undergo a rigorous review.