YouTube is an amazing innovation, and has become firmly embedded in our culture. Whether it’s cats playing the keyboard or a Khan Academy video explaining advanced calculus, the Google-owned video channel can provide just about anything you need to see. But one of the great equalizing features of YouTube that makes it so great–namely that individual users and major corporations alike can upload original content for others to use and enjoy–is the very thing that gives many parents pause when it comes to letting their kids take advantage of all that the site has to offer.
According to Shimrit Ben-Yair, the project’s group product manager, in a USA Today article on the launch of YouTube Kids, “Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids… We’ve seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200%.”
This demand from parents has largely grown out of a greater awareness of the available content that the internet can provide. Rather than seeing this demand and the resulting product as a step towards even more “internet babysitting” while removing culpability and responsibility from the adults, it’s more like an understanding that there are some amazing offerings out there for kids if you can wade through the content to find it. Short clip social media site Vine has already addressed the popularity of kids’ content with its own Vine Kids’ app.
“My 6 year old daughter loves watching videos about makeup and hairstyles, which quickly led to ‘related videos’ that included extreme body piercing and modifications… not something she should be watching just yet,” explains Good e-Reader staff writer Jillian Koskie. And she raises a great point: the videos themselves may be flagged as containing adult content, but the never-ending loop of suggested videos in the sidebar may run the gamut from equally harmless to blindingly unseeable.
Fortunately, the video upload site has announced that a solution is just around the corner, with the February 23rd launch of a kids’ YouTube app designed to eliminate the potential for inappropriate content making its way in front of young viewers. The app, which will only be available for Android users but limited to the US for now, will contain carefully selected titles from some of the most trusted names in children’s content.