How Safe is YouTube Kids?

When we talk to kids as part our work in Zeeko one app is constantly mentioned: YouTube Kids. This is a children’s version of the adult YouTube. It offers kids a way of watching content and commenting on the videos they watch. However, just because the word ‘Kids’ is in the title you should not be fooled into thinking that you and your children don’t need to exercise caution when using this app.

YouTube Kids was launched in 2015 and while most of its content is absolutely fine it has recently been criticised for allowing content that was not age appropriate.

Here are some things to bear in mind if your child is using YouTube Kids:

  • Talk to your kids about the videos that they like to watch. Once your child has watched a few videos YouTube Kids will make recommendations based on what your child has watched.
  • It is a good idea to disable the search option on YouTube Kids. Curiosity is a totally natural part of child development, in the context of the online world curiosity can lead to exposure to inappropriate content. Disabling the search bar also ensures that your child is viewing content that is monitored by YouTube.
  • You can also immediately report inappropriate content directly to YouTube Kids. There is a facility within YouTube Kids to offer feedback and report inappropriate content.
  • It is also possible to limit the amount of time that your child spends on YouTube Kids. You can simply activate the Set Time Limit feature and choose the amount of time you would like your child to spend watching YouTube Kids.

One of our key principals at Zeeko is that no matter what security settings you put in place they are never 100% secure and are no substitute for actual parental guidance! Regularly remind your child of the importance of letting you know if they come across something inappropriate when they are using any video app.

In March 2017 the BBC revealed the appearance of several shows that mimicked the likes of Peppa Pig, using the same animation styles and characters, but with a decidedly nasty edge. While YouTube has strict guidelines for content, the creators of these videos, by using keywords and characters that would normally be associated with children, managed to bypass them. This seems to show one of the main weaknesses in how YouTube approves content. In response to this issue Juniper Downs, Director of Policy with YouTube indicated that; ‘‘Earlier this year, we updated our policies to make content featuring inappropriate use of family entertainment characters ineligible for monetisation… We’re in the process of implementing a new policy that age restricts this content in the YouTube main app when flagged. Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids. The YouTube team is made up of parents who are committed to improving our apps and getting this right.’

Remind your child that even though the word ‘Kids’ is part of the title of an app they must exercise the same level of caution as they do when they use any other app. In the digital world it even more important to be make smart choices!