YouTube to launch new kids-centric app

YouTube will feature only kid-friendly videos, and give parents control over how much they watch

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
February 20, 2015
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It must be pretty strange to be a kid during these times. I was slightly older, a pre-teen, when the Internet became popular and I remember what it was like to suddenly gain access to things that I knew I shouldn't be seeing. Now, those things are likely a normal, everyday occurrence to someone born in the last 10 to 15 years.

Let's be honest: YouTube is hardly the problem. Sure, there's adult content on there, but it's far from the worst of what the Internet has to offer. Still, the company is doing its part to protect the eyes, and sensibilities, of our nation's children.

Google is launching a new YouTube app aimed squarely as children, called YouTube Kids, various media sources, including the Wall Street Journal, have been reporting, and which has now been confirmed to VatorNews.

The app will feature original episodes of popular television shows for preschoolers, such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Sesame Street. It will also feature original content uploaded to YouTube on channels that have been designated as kid-safe. Even the design of the app is said to be kid-friendly, with bigger icons and less scrolling.

In addition, the app also has features that are aimed at the parents of its intended audience, to give them control over how their children watch, include a timer they can use to limit how much video they can consume.

The app will also block out certain search terms that may lead kids to the darker parts of the YouTube experience. If a kid writes in an adult word in the app, like "sex" for example, the screen will give them a message asking them to "Try something else," according to USAToday.

The idea for the app came, as you might expect, from parents, who wanted to give their children the safest experiences possible on the site.

"Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids," Shimrit Ben-Yair, YouTube product manager, told USAToday. "We've seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it's more like 200%."

One drawback is that, for now, the app is only expected to launch on Android. There is no word on when it might be released on iOS as well.

YouTube is expected to officially announce the app this coming Monday at Kidscreen Summit, a conference for the children’s entertainment industry.

Currently, Google, thanks to in no small part to YouTube, is the top online video content property, according to data from comScore. Google sites had nearly 164 million total unique viewers in December, far more than second place Facebook, with 96 million.