This is a review of Google’s YouTube app for kids, called YouTube Kids. The app is a kid-friendly version of YouTube that shows only age appropriate videos.
November 2016 UPDATE! Parental control features have been enhanced. In addition to the ability to set a time limit for viewing, parents can now block videos they’d prefer their kids not see. The home screen can now be customized by age range – either Preschool, School Age, or all Kids.
The app home screen is pre-populated with kid-friendly video channels for the young’uns. They can also browse the videos by category: TV shows, Music, Learning and Explore. There is also a search capability (which you can disable).
Here are some Pros and Cons of the YouTube Kids app.
YouTube Kids Pros:
You can perform a search by typing OR by using a voice command, so even the little ones who can’t read or write can search for videos. This worked very well; when I said “Dora the Explorer” the app instantly translated and found videos:
You can turn off the ability to search if you prefer your child only watch the pre-selected videos.
There are no comments underneath the videos!! As you probably know the comments left on YouTube videos often show the ugliest in human behavior and decency. You won’t find any comments or ratings here.
There is a parental control area where you can set a time limit for viewing. Once the time is up, the app is locked down. If a video is playing when the timer goes off, it will stop.
No Personal Information is collected
There’s no sign-in or sign-up – the app doesn’t collect any information from kids, there is no username or sign up needed. Just download and start watching. (In this way the app is able to comply with COPPA, the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).
Block a video or channel
For parents to block a video, you’ll need to connect the YouTube Kids apps with your own Google account. You’ll be prompted to do this the first time you attempt to block a video. Once you’ve connected your account, you’ll need to stay signed in if you want those videos to stay blocked.
To block a video, simply click the three dots under the video, or the dots next to the channel name.
YouTube Kids Cons:
There are ads shown, though all the ads I saw were appropriate (no “50 Shades of Grey” ads!) But parents should know this is not an ad-free experience. In fact, Google received a lot of flak from not only parents, but from politicians too. In response, Google did add some clarification about ads to the YouTube Kids Parental Guide that reads:
- We allow limited paid advertisements (“Paid Ads”) in the app so that we can offer it for free. When your child plays a video in the app, your child may see a Paid Ad, which would be marked with “Ad” and preceded by an ad intro. These Paid Ads must follow our advertising policies, which for example exclude certain categories like food and beverages. Learn more about Ads in YouTube Kids and our advertising policies.
- Videos uploaded by users are not Paid Ads so they are not subject to our advertising policies regardless of the nature of the content. Users often upload commercials and other promotional materials to their YouTube channels, and these videos may appear in the app. For example, a search for cookies may show a television commercial from a cookie company on user’s channel — we would not consider this video a Paid Ad and it would not be subject to our Ads policies, which disallow Paid Ads for food.
Might not work for older kids/tweens
Older kids/tweens will probably find the app too childlike for their tastes (for example they might like to watch a completely appropriate music video but may only be able to find a KidzBop version). Some content will be appropriate for this age group – for example I found some “How to play Guitar” tutorials – but overall the app is designed for a younger demographic.
The parental control area is found by clicking on a lock in the lower right of the screen. To enter, you type the numbers written on the screen. If your child can read, he or she will be able to bust into the parental control area! Google addressed this in a recent app update (September, 2015). Parents can set a custom passcode instead. So for those older kids or younger math geniuses, instead of this:
You’ll see this:
This is an app, not a website. So this is a great option for those with Apple or Android devices. However there is no YouTube Kids option when viewing on the computer. In those instances, you’ll still want to follow the advice for using YouTube Safety Mode.
So there you have my YouTube Kids app review. Overall a safe video-watching experience and while not perfect, I’d recommend loading this onto any iPod, iPad or Android tablet your younger kids use to watch videos.