A child's desire to watch their favourite cartoon character or superhero online has often left them privy to all manner of inappropriate ads, pop ups and click- throughs, that steer them way out of their safe, child-friendly playground.
Of course there are safety settings you can set up on individual devices and there are filters and software to keep inappropriate content at bay. But as we know, there is never any guarantee we can stop the flood of junk that somehow finds its way through the filters and on to our screens.
Which is why it is good news that Google has launched the long awaited YouTube Kids app in Australia. This is certainly a welcome relief for many parents who are happy to give their little internet surfers the opportunity to learn and be entertained via videos. Now they can rest assured the content on this app has been curated specifically for little ones as well as existing child friendly videos and popular programs such as Sesame Street, Teletubbies and National Geographic Kids for those a little older.
There are also a few added extras such as:
- Timer: alerting the child when a session is nearly over. (Taking the heat off you being the bad guy!)
- Sound control: to turn off annoying background music and sound effects
- Turning off the search function: thus ensuring your child only stays on the programs you have previously selected
- A bigger, bolder design, easier for little hands to navigate
- A bevy of locally made Australian content curated by The Content Agency. They feature curated playlists and original shows 'Look what I found' and 'Kids Suggest' featuring interviews by kids and their suggestions for what other kids may enjoy.
In developing a channel of curated content, Luke Hardiman, director of The Content Agency, said he is pleased to promote the work of talented Australians. "There is a great deal of really good Australian made content for kids on YouTube but often finding it can be a challenge for kids and their parents". Having age appropriate content all in the one place certainly makes this easier for everyone.
Anything parents should be concerned about?
Well one must assume that data collection issues and targeting will be be well managed as will privacy standards. Whilst 'Kids only' content offers advertisers a prime audience, this may be an area of concern with little people often a 'marketers dream'. Skippable and non-skippable ads will also feature but this is no different to the original site.
All in all, I think this will offer a valuable viewing experience for kids. Parents still need to keep tabs on what their kids are watching and set time limits so it remains just one element of the many ways they are educated and entertained.
But for those days when a little downtime is needed, Youtube Kids will certainly offer parents far greater peace of mind and maybe a moment to finish that cup of coffee whilst it is still hot.