YouTube Kids has 'no minefields for parents,' group says

'Family friendly' ads for the app will undergo a rigorous review process, Google says

YouTube Kids logo

YouTube Kids logo

Google says its new YouTube app for kids is its first product "built from the ground up with little ones in mind," and it appears to have taken careful steps not to ignite a furor by sacrificing children's' privacy for its business interests.

YouTube Kids was released Monday in the U.S. in the Google Play store and Apple's App Store. It has privacy-preserving features but also displays ads, which Google says will be "family friendly."

Ads in nearly a dozen categories are prohibited including beauty and fitness, food and beverages, and politics, Google says. And it says the ads won't collect data about those who view or engage with them, or track them elsewhere on the web.

The app is focused on content Google thinks will be best for pre-teens, organized into four categories: shows, music, learning and "explore." On Monday, there were clips from Sesame Street, Thomas the Tank Engine, PBS, and a "Baby Mozart" channel with cutesy versions of the composer's music.

Some observers said Google is handling the privacy aspects well.

"With no way to register personal information or even to upload videos directly, and with only kid-friendly advertising, YouTube Kids should provide a privacy-safe experience for kids," said Jules Polonetsky, executive director and co-chair of the Future for Privacy Forum, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank.

YouTube Kids collects only anonymous identifiers to support internal operations such as spam and abuse prevention, and ad frequency capping, Google says in its documentation.

The app does not collect, use or disclose personal information connected to a Google account, it says. It's therefore compliant with the Children's Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), Google says, which governs how Web companies can mine personal information of children under 13.

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit that rates various media for kids, families and schools, gave the app a decent review. In it, the group said "there aren't any real minefields for parents to worry about."

Not everyone was impressed, however.

"This is yet another way to advertise to kids," said Josh Golin, associate director at the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood, which advocates to protect children from harmful or deceptive marketing. He said he has concerns about how ads will be presented in the app.

In particular, he's worried about ads showing the same characters that a child just watched in a video. This form of advertising, known as host selling, is illegal on television but not online, Golin said, said, and the style makes it hard for young children to distinguish between an ad and the entertainment.

The app includes content filtering features. Search can be turned off so that only pre-selected videos are available. Turned on, it will filter searches in an attempt to block results that might be inappropriate. Searching for "sex," for instance, produces the message, "Try searching for something else."

Searching for "guns" produced some results, but only Minecraft videos involving guns and tutorials for playing songs with "gun" in the title.

YouTube Kids shows Google pushing to expand the use of its services among a younger audience. The company plans to soon launch a version of it for Kurio and Nabi kids' tablets. Google competitor Twitter, meanwhile, recently launched a kid-oriented version of its Vine mobile video service.

Zach Miners covers social networking, search and general technology news for IDG News Service. Follow Zach on Twitter at @zachminers. Zach's e-mail address is zach_miners@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags mobile applicationsInternet-based applications and servicesGoogleMusic and audiomobilesocial mediainternetvideo

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Zach Miners

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?