YouTube Children's latest update gives parents greater control over what the kids are watching. After a change earlier this year that allowed parents to restrict viewing options to human-powered channels, YouTube today adds another feature that allows parents to explicitly whitelist each channel or video they will be available to their children through the app.
Additionally, YouTube Kids launches an updated experience to serve the needs of a slightly older demographic: tween viewers ages 8 to 12. This mode adds new content, such as popular music and video games.
The company had promised in April these changes were in the works but did not notice when to go.
With the manual whitelisting feature, parents can visit the app Settings, go to the child's profile, and switch to an "Only Authorized Content" option. They can then handpick the videos they want the children to have access to review the YouTube Kids app.
Parents can choose to add video, channel, or collection of channels they like by touching the "+" button, or they can search for a particular creator or video through this interface.
When this mode is enabled, children will no longer be able to search for content on their own.
Although this is a lot of manual work on the part of the parents, it benefits the needs of those with very young children who are not comfortable with YouTube Kids' newer "man-made channels" filtering options, as the error can still go through.
A "human" -reviewed "channel means that a YouTube moderator has watched more videos on the channel to determine if the content is generally appropriate and child-friendly, but that does not mean that every video as later added to the channel, will be human-reviewed.
Instead, future uploads to the channel will only go through YouTube's algorithmic security layer, the company has said.
YouTube Kids Extends to Tweens
] The second new feature now coming will update YouTube Kids for an older audience who begins to grow on the coolness of the app and how it sometimes pushes content that is "for babies," as my 8- year-old would put it.
Instead, parents could turn on the "Older" content level setting that opens up YouTube children to include less restricted content for children ages 8 to 12.
] According to the company, this includes music and video games – which is something like 90% of the YouTube YouTube title of this age. (Not an official state. Only what it feels over here.)
The "Younger" option will continue to contain things like sing-alongs and other age-related educational videos, but the YouTube Kids "Older Mode will let children look different types of videos, such as music videos, video games, shows, nature and wildlife videos and more.
YouTube emphasizes to parents that its ability to filter content is not perfect – inappropriate content can still go through. It needs parents to participate by blocking and flagging videos as it comes up.
It's best if the kids keep watching YouTube while they are in the parents' presence of course and without headphones or on the big screen in the living room where you can moderate the children's view yourself.
But there are times when you need to use YouTube as a babysitter or a distraction so you can get things done. The new whitelisting option can help parents feel more comfortable and let the kids get rid of the app.
Meanwhile, older children will appreciate the extended freedom. (And you're not continually asked for your own phone where "regular YouTube" is installed as a result.)
YouTube says that parental controls are rolling today on Android and coming soon to iOS. The "Older" option is now rolling out in the US and will expand globally in the future.
Correction: A previous version of this post referred to the lack of a blacklist feature. This was incorrect – Blacklist by channel or video is possible. This section was removed shortly after publication. Sorry for the mistake.