Google is changing its YouTube Kids app to give parents more control over content their kids access, and is expanding from an app to a YouTube Kids web site.
Starting Thursday (Aug. 29), parents can select from three different age groups of content:
"Preschool (ages 4 & under) is designed to allow kids to watch videos that promote creativity, playfulness, learning, & exploration.
"Younger (ages 5-7) is designed to allow kids to explore their interests and search for a wide variety of topics, including songs, cartoons, crafts, & more.
"Older (ages 8-12) is designed to allow kids with growing independence to search & explore additional music videos, gaming, family vlogs, science, and more."
Based on the level selected, content the kids can search for will be limited to that level.
"We built YouTube Kids to create a safer environment for kids to explore their interests and curiosity, while giving parents the tools to customize the experience for their kids. We continue to improve the app based on feedback from parents and experts," YouTube said.
The Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which has been critical of YouTube Kids, took some credit for the change, but also wanted more.
"We’re pleased that our advocacy has led Google to make substantive changes to protect children on YouTube," the group said. "If Google stops targeted marketing to kids on YouTube, that’s a great step forward. And it’s encouraging that Google plans to expand its YouTube Kids platform from an app to a website. But will they take all kids’ content off of the main YouTube site? That’s where the great majority of children do their viewing, and if Google will still show children’s content there, and collect their data in violation of federal privacy law, then children will still be at risk.
"It’s also deeply concerning that even after all the issues with YouTube's algorithm, not all YouTube Kids content will be reviewed by humans.
YouTube concedes that not all content can be manually reviewed, but also points out that there is an opportunity to flag content.
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