Google introduced a version of the YouTube app designed just for children earlier this year, and now it is updating that app with more parental controls, in response to criticism about the app not being safe for kids.
Two consumer groups - the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood - both reported the YouTube Kids app to the US Federal Trade Commission this year, claiming the app provides access to videos inappropriate for children, including ones about sex, alcohol and drug and child abuse, pedophilia, etc.
The groups basically said Google has been deceiving parents by marketing the YouTube Kids app as a safe place for children while also serving up videos that do not meet the standard definition of "family friendly". Well, Google took their woes into consideration and has announced new features that should make parents feel more at ease.
Now, when parents open YouTube Kids, Google will explain upfront how its system chooses and recommends content. It'll also detail how to flag videos and prompt parents to set how broadly they want their child to explore within the app. Parents can, for instance, turn the search function on or off to restrict their child’s discovery experience.
Another new feature allows parents to customise their passcode: "We’ve heard some parents prefer a personal passcode, rather than a spelled-out code, so we’ve added this option to access parental controls," Google explained.
The new YouTube Kids app will roll out in the coming weeks, along with support for Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles, etc. It'll also feature guest-curated playlists and original series from DreamWorksTV and more.
Oh, and in case you were wondering, YouTube Kids has been downloaded more than 8 million times since February.