Is YouTube Kids Safe for Children?

YouTube Kids is the children's version of the popular YouTube video platform owned by Google. It was launched as an Android and Ios mobile app in February 2015 mainly to provide curated content [TV shows, music, educational videos, and user-generated content] deemed suitable for kids below age 13.

is YouTube Kids safe

It is now available on other mediums like LG, Samsung, Android TV, and Sony smart TV. In August 2019, a web-based version of YouTube Kids was introduced. When it was first released in 2015, YouTube Kids was available only in the US. But by 2021, it could be accessed in over 80 countries and had over 35 million viewers per week.

Read on to learn more about YouTube Kids and keep your kids safe online better.

YouTube Kids Homesreen Video Categories

Here are the icons for video content by category on YouTube Kids:

Shows includes child-friendly programs from popular YouTube creators, family media networks, and new and nostalgic characters.

Music includes nursery rhymes, sing-alongs, kid-friendly covers, and dance tutorials.

Learning includes content that promotes fun, active learning: from ABCs and 123s to science experiments and language learning.

Explore includes inspirational content that helps kids to explore the world around them, develop new hobbies, and delve into topics that interest them.

Gaming includes content featuring kids' favorite video games and gamers. This category becomes available only when you've selected the Older content setting for your kid.

Shared includes all of the YouTube channels and videos you've shared with your kid. This category becomes visible only if you share YouTube content with your kids. Shared will no longer be visible if you unshared or blocked all previously shared content.

Watch it again includes videos your kid has already viewed but may want to watch again. You can also find channels to that your kid is subscribed.

YouTube Kids may periodically introduce temporary categories such as "Reading" to celebrate the reading month.

A Recommended videos category also features recommendations based on viewing and search history. Recommended videos may also include Watch it again videos and shared content.

YouTube uses algorithms and human reviews to select the videos in these categories.

YouTube Kids and Advertising

Advertisements are an integral component of the YouTube Kids network. It is because of its status as an ad-supported platform that it must feature ads to ensure continuous operation. YouTube does not post ads arbitrarily. Instead, ad placements are based on data collected by YouTube about children's viewing habits.

YouTube has also taken extra precautions by ensuring that these adverts do not redirect children to sites that are not suitable for their age. Hence, click-throughs to other websites are not a feature of YouTube Kids ads. Also banned from YouTube Kids are videos described as overly commercial by YouTube or those promoting a particular product, service, or company.

Users are also allowed to identify and report ads that they consider inappropriate to children for necessary action by YouTube. In addition to prohibiting internet-based advertising and paid ads with remarketing or other tracking pixels, paid ads for the products below are also prohibited on YouTube Kids.

Age Sensitive Media Content

These include all media deemed sensitive for YouTubers not up to 13. some examples include ads for television shows rated higher than 'G' by TV Parental Guidelines and for films rated higher than 'PG' by the MPAA.

Dating and Relationship

These include paid ads for dating sites, family counseling, or divorce services.

Beauty and Fitness

This section includes products such as external personal care, fitness, exercise, weight loss, diet, and nutrition.

Food and Beverages

YouTube Kids prohibits products in the consumable food and drinks category, no matter their nutrition content.

Political Advertisements

All paid political ads are prohibited. Included here is information about political candidates, their policy positions, political parties, fundraising or political action committees, or their agendas.

Illegal or Regulated Products

This section captures products that are regulated or illegal to advertise to kids. Examples include Prohibited Content and Restricted Content under Google ad policies and products that may constitute safety risks for kids.

Religious Ads

YouTube kids prohibit all kinds of religious paid ads.

Online or Virtual Communities

It includes platforms and services related to virtual communities in which members mainly communicate on the internet.

Video Games

This classification includes electronic video games (and related accessories) that may be played on a video game console, computer, or another electronic device such as a mobile phone or tablet but whose industry rating is not suitable for children 12 years and below.

YouTube Kids also prohibits paid ads that feature:

  • Adult or sexually suggestive content
  • Violent content
  • Branding
  • Incitement to purchase
  • Misleading or deceptive claims
  • Dangerous content

How Safe Is YouTube Kids for Children?

Shortly after YouTube Kids commenced operations, Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood [CCFC] filed an FTC complaint against it because of inappropriate videos found on the platform.

Also, the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy (CDD) criticized the use of ads on the YouTube Kids app. Both groups argued that kids are not in a position to differentiate ads from content. YouTube addressed this concern by introducing short bumpers to separate ads from content.

According to Josh Golin, director of the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, automated algorithms were insufficient when determining if a video is age-appropriate. He then called for manual curation to be included as part of the video filtering process. YouTube has since heeded his advice. 

In November 2017, YouTube was again criticized for not preventing inappropriate videos from scaling through its filters.

That same month, YouTube updated the YouTube Kids app by adding a disclaimer to its first-time setup process. The disclaimer stated that the YouTube Kids service could not guarantee the suitability of videos that were not manually curated and advised parents to report and block videos they considered inappropriate.

In 2018, YouTube introduced an optional feature restricting users to human-reviewed channels and recommendations and a manual allow listing system.

But despite its best efforts to make YouTube Kids safe for children (including adding human reviewers and removing low-quality videos), inappropriate content continues to evade the platform's algorithms and human moderators.

It is according to a 2022 Tech Transparency Project (TTP) investigation. The TTP investigation found videos on YouTube Kids that eulogize cocaine and crystal meth and provide instructions about how to conceal a gun and videos that violate YouTube Kids' policy against "overly commercial or promotional" content.

The matter has become so severe that US lawmakers interrogated the YouTube CEO in 2021. They were unhappy with the horrific material on YouTube Kids and branded the platform a "wasteland of vapid, consumerist content.

The TTP report concludes by opining that allowing inappropriate content through its human and algorithmic filters has the potential to impact children negatively. The group reminds YouTube of its responsibility to get things right, especially in protecting its vulnerable users.

How to Ensure Maximum Safety for Your Children

Critics continue to demonize YouTube Kids' human and algorithmic filters because of their failures. You need the best parental control solution if you care about your children's safety online and offline. With an app like AirDroid Parental Control, that is what you get, the best comprehensive parental control app around.

AirDroid Parental Control

AirDroid Parental Control app gives parents the power to:

  • Know all apps installed on your kid's phone and check whether they are safe for kids.
  • Set up a time limit for an app or disable the app during a particular time.
  • Watch the live screen of the kid's device on parents to check whether there is inappropriate content.

Apart from screen and app control, the AirDroid Parental Control App boasts several other features such as activity report, real-time location tracking, geofencing, and more!

You'll also enjoy exclusive features like monitoring what is happening around your kids, among others.

In a nutshell, AirDroid enables parents to monitor and control activities on their children's devices to help the kids develop good digital habits that can help them avoid things like cyberbullying and online fraud.

Get the AirDroid Parental Control App to ensure your children Watch YouTube Kids safely!

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