The arrival of YouTube Kids had the feeling of a seismic shift in the media landscape. As Malik Ducard revealed the app at the Kidscreen Summit today, it feels more like building a safety net into how children already view and interact with online content.
The most remarkable aspect of YouTube and Vine’s roll out of child-specific apps is how long it’s taken them to arrive - especially when you consider how popular both platforms are to small, tech-savvy hands.
Both brands have guides on how to navigate the platform safely, but there has always been a danger of slipping into the darker corners of the web: a mere three clicks, in fact.
Only today, one of our brands were the victim of a third party’s unofficial YouTube upload: an advert for Old Spice featuring Terry Crews’s head rolling down a bowling alley playing before a clip. Hilarious if you’re an adult - terrifying if you’re under 4. This is where YouTube and Vine Kids come in handy: they work with broadcasters and in-house talent to curate content for their apps. They have restricted search settings, with the option to switch off search completely and built in a timer: the app will stop playing after a time specified by the parent. This means that there is much greater control over what your child sees. It's clear that both YouTube and Google are looking to expand heavily in the family space and want to get parents on side as quickly as possible.
What's the cost?
Initially, there was no mention on whether YouTube Kids would be a subscription service or supported by ads. YouTube advertising involves extensive targeting of users through algorithms. So when YouTube admitted earlier today they were going for the latter option, some parents expressed concern over whether it would be built on their children's data. But, will it?
YouTube Kids is a 'logged-out' service: it's fully compliant with COPPA [Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act] in the US, limiting “individually identifiable information” collected by internet services on young people. We believe their intentions are good, and that not having profiles means no data collection and no targeted ads for children for a long time to come.
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