Australian Council on Children and the Media

YouTube Kids - Google Inc

app image

Short takes

YouTube Kids is a video viewing app. Caution: online interactivity, advertising.

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No gambling content found in the levels played

This review of YouTube Kids was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 30 November 2015.

About the app

This section contains details about the app provided by an ACCM Reviewer.

Name of app: YouTube Kids
Developed by: Google Inc
Platform reviewed: Apple App Store, Google Play
Cost: Free
Developer’s suggested age: Google Play Store: 3+, iTunes Store: 4+.
ACCM suggested age: 13+ some channels may contain content of concern to parents
Gambling content advice: No gambling content found in the levels played

ACCM review

This review of YouTube Kids contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

This app was reviewed for approximately 1 hour.

App description

YouTube Kids is a child-friendly version of the YouTube app. There is no central objective but the app purports to create a safe space for children to watch age-appropriate YouTube videos without having access to inappropriate material. The skills required include motor skills to use the app. 

Reviewers comments

When the app is opened, players are taken to an introductory welcome screen. It states ‘Welcome to Youtube Kids! Get a grown-up’s help!’, followed by ‘Hi there, grown-up. Before your child gets started, there are a few things we want you to know about the app and some of the settings available to you.’ Adults are then required to complete a small task, where numbers are presented as words (e.g. THREE, EIGHT, TWO, FOUR) and players must type in their numeric equivalents.

The app then offers an informative screen that states that Youtube Kids offers a safer Youtube experience, using automated systems to choose content from the broader catalogue of YouTube videos. Once a child has watched a few videos, the app will start recommending videos on the home screen based on terms that have previously been searched for and videos that have been viewed. The information states that the app is also designed to exclude content that is not appropriate for children but that not all videos are reviewed manually and it is possible that children may find inappropriate material. Parents are encouraged to ‘flag’ inappropriate videos that their child may come across, in order to help make Youtube Kids better for everyone.

The app also states that the search bar can be turned on or off. With the search bar on, children can access millions more Youtube Kids videos than what are present on the home screen and allows them to search for new content on their own. When search is turned off, children can only view videos on their home screen – this includes those recommended by the app itself which are based on ones that were watched with the search turned off also. This reduces the chances that children will come across inappropriate material. Parents are then asked to choose between turning search ‘ON’ or ‘OFF’.

The app also allows parents to ‘set time limits’ for the usage of the app. This is a feature locked to grown-ups and enables parents to set a timer ranging from 1-120 minutes after which the app will lock itself.

On the home screen initially, users have access to ABC KIDS Watch, Fixed Fairy Tales, Sesame Street, Popular Videos This Week, Fruit Ninja, Fun With Peppa Pig, Thomas and Friends, Nursery Rhymes, Super Simple ABCs, etc. There is a very large range of channels and videos, broken up into the categories of ‘Shows’ (full-length episodes), ‘Music’ (sing-a-long channels), ‘Education’ (alphabet and spelling videos, science-related videos, etc), and ‘Explore’ (arts and craft videos, channels relating to children’s games such as Minecraft, etc).

If the search function is used to search for inappropriate material, such as ‘sex’, ‘drugs’, or ‘violence’, a small face appears with text below stating ‘Try searching for something else’. Of the 20 videos opened and played, none had ads prior to the video playing (unlike within the regular Youtube app). Users are also not allowed to leave comments on videos.

The selection of channels however, within the app’s home screen are quite heavily based in existing franchises, such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Play School, Peppa Pig, Bananas in Pajamas, etc. As a result, it must be noted that the app contains quite subtle advertising that is not as easily identifiable as an overt pop-up ad for an external game. It should be noted however, the material chosen by Youtube Kids appears to be age-appropriate and appealing to children.

In App purchasing

No: No in app purchasing was found during this review.

Gambling

No gambling content was found during this review.

Advertising and product placement

The selection of channels within the app’s home screen are quite heavily based in existing franchises, such as Thomas the Tank Engine, Play School, Peppa Pig, Bananas in Pajamas, etc. As a result, it must be noted that the app contains quite subtle advertising that is not as easily identifiable as an overt pop-up ad for an external game. It should be noted however, the material chosen by Youtube Kids appears to be age-appropriate and appealing to children.

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

Parental Guidance is required for younger viewers as parents need to decide whether to allow the search button to be on or off. The parental control feature blocks the ability for users to search for new content and to set time limits on the usage of the app.

The content availability is determined by an algorithm for which the rules for selection and exclusion of content are unknown. It is possible that inappropriate videos could slip through.

The passcode control could be unlocked by a child old enough to memorise words.

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About our colour guide

Content is age appropriate for children this age

Some content may not be appropriate for children this age. Parental guidance recommended

Content is not age appropriate for children this age

Gambling content advice

Simulated casino style gambling. Not suitable for minors

Contains some elements of gambling. Some content is not recommended for minors. Parental guidance recommended

No gambling content found in the levels played

About games and gambling

Most games contain elements of risk, chance and knowledge, that is why they are fun to play. There is growing concern about the impacts of simulated gambling games on the health and wellbeing of children. That's why we are identifying games that contain gambling elements on our site.

The State Government of South Australia's web site http://nogame.com.au/ contains information about these concerns.