What Parents need to know
What is YouTube For Kids?
YouTube for Kids is a stand-alone application from YouTube that is targeted at children under the age of thirteen. This app features curated, ad-supported TV shows, music, educational videos, and user-created content. At first glance this is a convenient way to keep your children entertained while simultaneously exposing them to development stimulating content, however, it has recently come under fire for exposing children to harmful content. This content includes; Minecraft cartoons inciting suicide and mass shootings, violence, profanities, and consumerism. Just how big is the problem and are there ways to ensure that your children do not fall victim to this content?
How is this content landing on YouTube for Kids?
For the most part, the content that is on YouTube for Kids is perfectly safe. However, the fact that there have been cases were harmful content reached children means that that the algorithm is not enough to protect your children.
YouTube has used automated analysis to filter out content that is meant for adult consumption from reaching their app for children. However, this process is not perfect as it requires user input in order to perfect the kind of content delivered. What this means in simple terms is that adult supervision is still important just like with other mediums. Therefore, it is up to parents to use the safeguards that YouTube has provided in order to be a hundred percent certain that harmful content does not slip through the cracks.
Who is creating this content?
These cartoons were not created for YouTube Kids; however, they are usually adult content that makes it past the algorithm because it contains popular cartoon characters like Peppa Pig, Disney princesses, and Minecraft. YouTube put out a statement indicating that they have placed age restrictions on such content in order to filter it out, it has also penalized the content that is targeted at children and taken down those channels. However; there should be more that parents can do in order to protect their children considering that the only way to report this content is for consumers to have seen it first.
What can you do as a parent?
Sign Up for YouTube Red
When you sign up for YouTube Red you will no longer be able to see ads between shows which will eliminate the chances of your child seeing inappropriate and fast food adverts. With this subscription, children will also be able to watch their favorite shows offline.
Set Up Profiles for your children
YouTube Kids lets you have different profiles for each user. This means that you can easily set up a separate profile for each child that will allow YouTube to track search history and video views in order to carefully curate the sort of content that your child sees.
Inspect What They Watch
Of course, you cannot monitor what your child watches 24/7 however, for peace of mind it advisable that you make time to sit and watch with them occasionally. This will allow you to get an overview of what they watch, and you should eventually be able to spot the content that you don’t want them to watch. Once you do this you can block and report this content to YouTube.
YouTube Kids has the lock icon in the lower right corner of the app. When you tap on it you will then be prompted to solve a math problem, which later can be replaced by a four-digit passcode. First create this passcode, to protect kids from answering the equation and altering their parental controls later. Once inside the settings menu, parents can set a timer, which will lock the app when the allotted amount of time runs out. To change what content kids can access, tap their individual profiles. To alter these settings, parents need to enter the password for their Gmail account—not the 4-digit passcode. To limit kids to only human-curated videos, turn off “Allow searching.” Below this setting, parents can toggle the content level of the videos to those intended for “Younger” or “Older” audiences. Or they may switch to content only they approve. You can also “Pause watch history” at the bottom of the screen, which stops YouTube Kids from using video views or search terms to recommend new videos to children.
Of course, there is no full-proof way of ensuring what sort of content your children are consuming all the time. However, it doesn’t hurt to put the above in place in order to protect your children. Parents should not be deterred from allowing their children to use the application, as with enough information you will be able to curate what your children watch.