YouTube is announcing “supervised experiences,” a new set of restrictions that allows parents to better control what content their children can access on the streaming video platform.
According to a blog post, YouTube hopes the filters will help parents slowly introduce their older children to age-appropriate content and features outside of the YouTube Kids app. The program will launch first with an early beta, with a wider beta rolling out “in the coming months.”
No matter how you look at it, YouTube has become an essential platform for most kids – potentially more important, and influential, than any other TV channel or network.
The way that kids consume video content has changed, and their interests have shifted. Now, children are just as likely to aspire to become a YouTuber as they are an astronaut, or anything else.
But YouTube can still be risky, with content rabbit holes that can take your kids into dangerous, and potentially harmful territory. That why YouTube developed YouTube Kids, its dedicated platform for youngsters that runs separate from the main app, and doesn’t facilitate links to all YouTube content. But at some stage, older kids will be keen to move on, and that can put parents in a challenging position. Now, you need to keep tabs on what they’re watching, while also giving them more privacy and independence.
To address this, YouTube has developed a new process that will enable parents to monitor their child’s YouTube activity via a connected experience.
“Over the last year, we’ve worked with parents and experts across the globe in areas related to child safety, child development, and digital literacy to develop a solution for parents of tweens and teens. In the coming months, we’ll launch a new experience in beta for parents to allow their children to access YouTube through a supervised Google Account. This supervised experience will come with content settings and limited features. We’ll start with an early beta for families with kids under the age of consent to test and provide feedback, as we continue to expand and improve the experience.”
Through this new option, parents will be able to choose from three levels of supervision for their childrens’ activities:
Explore: For children ready to move on from YouTube Kids and explore content on YouTube, this setting will feature a broad range of videos generally suitable for viewers ages 9+, including vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content and more.
Explore More: With content generally suitable for viewers ages 13+, this setting will include an even larger set of videos, and also live streams in the same categories as “Explore.”
Most of YouTube: This setting will contain almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content, and it includes sensitive topics that may only be appropriate for older teens.
That will help provide increased reassurance for parents, while also, ideally, not being too invasive, and upsetting your ’10-going-on-20′ daughter.
Given the COVID-19 lockdowns, this will be a much-welcomed tool, because without our regular entertainment options, more kids have been spending more time on connected devices over the past 12 months.
YouTube says that in-app purchases will be disabled within this new experience, as well as creation and comments features, though parents will eventually have variable controls for each element. YouTube also notes that it will continue to evolve the tool over time to improve the options and tools available.
Again, given the increased reliance on digital tools, parents will be keen to implement more oversight over their kids’ viewing behaviors, and while there are already third-party tools and options to control and regulate usage, having those tools built into YouTube itself could be of benefit.
It will also help YouTube better adhere to rising regulatory expectations. In 2019, YouTube was fined a record $170 million for violations of the COPPA rules, due to data collection on the behaviors of youngsters in the app.
YouTube has long had a version of its mobile app called YouTube Kids that provides a limited experience for kids in terms of videos they can watch on the platform. The app is meant to ensure that children aged four years and above watch only age-appropriate content and set a limit to their screen time.
For teens and preadolescents, YouTube acknowledges they have a different kind of need for learning and creativity. That is why the service is introducing a new capability that will allow parents to control the type of content teens and tweens can watch through a supervised account.