TECHNOLOGY is a gateway to development. But when it comes to children, the vast web of knowledge and content available online opens a door for both opportunities and dangers.
Because of this, mobile application YouTube Kids was developed. With tens of millions of downloads, more than 14 million active viewers weekly and more than 70 billion views to date, “YouTube Kids” is currently in 43 countries and translated into 13 local languages.
Created by a group of parents (who are Google and YouTube users themselves), the app is not just for entertainment but a learning and discovery tool for young minds.
“We know that children are automatically attracted to YouTube and we wanted to make sure that they have something that is theirs—where they can navigate with their little fingers in a place where the content they’re getting is safe,” said Don Anderson, head of family and learning for YouTube Asia-Pacific, who also mentioned that the content is curated through algorithms specifically designed for families and also by the parent-users themselves.
“We really pride ourselves in providing an experience that is family-friendly, and also brings together a lot of the top content produced by our creators across the globe, region and locale.”
“YouTube is for users above age 13, which is why they created the app YouTube Kids,” said Tutu Nguyen, YouTube Apac public relations. “Children explore the world in a more contained manner, which is why there are a lot of ‘parent control’ features.”
In terms of parent controls, the app allows parents to set-up eight children’s profiles under an account linked to the parent’s Gmail account. Parents can log-in to access settings such as a passcode, timer (for limited-time exposure), history, and approve specific collections of content their kids can view. They can also turn the search bar on and off, making what Anderson describes as a “kind of walled garden approach.”
“It’s really about the parents getting involved with the children. We’re continuing to introduce parental controls because we want to ensure that parents are involved in the process of learning and discovery. They can have a real hand and say in deciding what type of content the children can access or have the opportunity to view. We give them the tools—the instructions are there—but it’s up to them. It is there as a means of allowing families to decide on their own.”
He said that all the content that ends up in YouTube Kids is derived from YouTube itself—so long as the creator’s channel meets the stringent family-safe guidelines, passes the standards of the curators and gets picked by the algorithm.
Other features include content being organized into categories, and the ability to cast or control videos from the mobile device to the TV.
YouTube Kids was launched in August 2016 with the Philippines as one of its first markets. The country is also one of the select few that has the opportunity for users to select content and view it offline.
“If you don’t have internet connection, you can actually pin the video to the homescreen and basically select content to view, even when you don’t have a connection. The Philippines just happens to be one of the select markets that have that,” said Anderson.
“We’re very pleased with the turnout in the country. It’s doing great in terms of engagement for families—both parents and children,” he added.
Parents are encouraged to download the application—which is free and available on both Google Play and Apple App Stores for mobile devices and smart TVs.
“We put critical priority in moving forward. We want to see what more we can do in terms of building the learning creator ecosystem across Asia and a market like the Philippines... We’re always keeping our eyes open for nuances of local markets and what we can build around in terms of projects and plans. It’s very exciting. Anticipate more interesting and exciting announcements for 2019,” said Anderson.