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YouTube Kids is a friendly, safe(ish) video browser

07 October 2015, Mike Williams

YouTube KidsYouTube can be a great resource for young children, but there’s also a vast amount of adult content that you probably won’t want them to see.

The regular YouTube app and even the website can place some limits on what you access (Manage Subscriptions > Restricted Mode > On), but if that’s not enough then you might like to try Google’s official YouTube Kids app for Android.

Custom algorithms and some human reviewing cut out the vast majority of unsuitable material, organising and presenting the rest in four main categories: Shows, Learning, Music and Explore.

If that’s too restrictive then there’s a “Search” tool which relies on algorithms alone, giving access to any child-friendly content, although also increasing the chance of finding something unsuitable. (Search can be disabled if that’s a problem.)

The interface is simple and straightforward, big buttons giving quick access to only the essential options, so kids will be using it happily within a minute or two.

YouTube Kids

Human reviewing cuts the chance of unsuitable content appearing, but there’s still a chance some will get through

Handy configuration options include a “time limit”, allowing you to lock the app after your children have been watching for a defined amount of time.

Are apps like this a good idea? Well… That depends.

Yes, they do make your life simpler. Even very small children could keep themselves happily entertained for quite some time, with less chance of them stumbling across any inappropriate content.

YouTube Kids doesn’t offer any 100% guarantees, though, and there have already been some high profile complaints about disturbing content that’s turned up on the app occasionally.

As Google points out, “no algorithm is perfect” and it’s “no substitute for a parent”: if you don’t have time to monitor what your kids are doing, then there’s an increased risk of them viewing something unsuitable.

There’s perhaps also an issue of exposure to advertising, as the app will not only display its own ads, but any from the content creators, as well.

YouTube Kids isn’t the perfect child minder, then, and it might not be something you want to use all the time. But it does provide a simpler, safer way to browse video content, and overall the app deserves a place in every parent’s internet toolkit.

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