YouTube Kids (2021 review) - Google Inc.

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Short takes

YouTube Kids is like free-to-air TV for children, with amateur to professional video content including shows, music, educational videos, and user-created content. Not suitable under 7; parental guidance to 12 (advertising, parental assistance needed for initial setup and ongoing monitoring of content)

Age
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15

No gambling content found in the levels played

This review of YouTube Kids (2021 review) was completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 July 2021.

About the app

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

Name of app: YouTube Kids (2021 review)
Developed by: Google Inc.
Platform reviewed: Google Play
Cost: Free, Paid
Developer's suggested age: 4+
ACCM suggested age: Not suitable under 7 and parental guidance to 12 due to advertising, assistance needed for initial setup, and ongoing monitoring of content. It has limited parental filters and, like YouTube, revenue is made through advertising in the free version. With careful set up by parents and regular review of the child’s ‘watch list’ to be sure the content filter is working appropriately, children from 7 years up should be able to use this app with little or no supervision. Ok for children over 12.
Gambling content advice: No gambling content found in the levels played

ACCM review

This review of YouTube Kids (2021 review) contains the following information:

The level to which the game was reviewed

The reviewer used the app for 3 hours.

App description

YouTube Kids is a viewing platform specifically aimed at providing amateur to professional videos that are child centric. The app provides filters that allow parents to control access to a large library of content including TV shows, music videos, educational videos and user-created content. Only requiring swipe and click, while some available videos are designed to educate, this app is purely for entertainment. The company's target age with the inbuilt filters is 4-12 years old.

Reviewers comments

YouTube Kids requires parents to set it up, including using their Google sign-in information with a related email address and password, though this can be bi-passed by not signing in, however, content, and particularly ads, will not be as controlled. When you agree to the terms, the app will collect information on any created child’s ‘profile’ (up to 8 profiles), though it is stipulated that any personal information (ie. name, address or contact information) will not be collected. The app also needs access to photos/media/files on the device being used, plus the microphone and Wi-Fi Internet protocol (IP) address which informs them generally what part of the world you live in. Photos are for setting a profile picture if desired.

In the initial set up, which can be edited at any time, the parent can opt to control all the selections for the user by selecting the 'Approved Content Only', whereby the parent must hand-pick the videos, or to allow free access to the ‘search’ control within YouTube Kids’ controlled library of videos. An auto-play feature that is also present in YouTube and many other streaming services (eg Netflix, Binge etc), then continues to select content for your child to view after the initial video has completed. Based on the developer, Google Inc.’s, data and parental filters it is quite hard to predict the selected content that will show, however, the reviewer’s experience established that tighter parental filters really restricted the range of follow up videos and can keep them to one program (eg. Peppa Pig), should it be desired. Should they choose, parents are also able to set a watching time limit which can somewhat counteract the ‘draw-in’ effect of auto-play.

There are adverts in the non-subscription version though they can be difficult to identify. In some channels, such as National Geographic for Children, the ads are indicated by ‘(AD)’ before the title of the video (eg (AD) Can You Make a Movie with a Tiger?), however, often there is a tag at the end of a video that advertises a related product such as, ‘watch and subscribe to America’s Got Talent’, ‘buy tickets to Brave Adventures Tours and win special associated prizes’, or ‘how to’ videos using Lego/Minecraft or other such products or related skills (ie dance/instrument tuition) etc. Mention of ‘liking’ the presenters’ video on FB and Twitter often features at the end of videos. The very popular ‘Unboxing’ videos are available and are basically video ads for products, that extensively describe the products in a desirable way ie. Transformers, Lego sets, PlayStation, super-cross gear etc. There are also child ‘influencers’ available who have, or are trying to get, sponsorship from product companies in exchange for endorsing the products on their videos.

Overall the information provided on the Developer’s notes on the app download page are detailed and transparent. They also accept that, at times, the filter may occasionally fail and allow an inappropriate video through but encourage users to feed back to them immediately should this happen. This point is important for parents to note as it is possible for inappropriate content to slip through, however, by purchasing a subscription there are no ads, and children can watch offline. Parents can also select ‘Approved Content Only’ which again reduces the risk of inappropriate content.

In App purchasing

There is no In-App purchasing in this game, apart from:

  • Premium subscription - $19.99/month with 1 free month trial

Online information

There is some online connectivity, such as:

  • The app needs to be online to work, however, to get the app working or continue its running, the child should not need to disclose any information post the parent’s set up.

Gambling

At the time of review, the reviewer found no simulated gambling content. If you discover simulated gambling content in this app, please contact us with the details so we can update our review.

Please note: Even when ‘Gambling’ was searched, there was no connection to overt gambling. It connected to content such as magic tricks, talent shows, card tricks, statistic courses, and chess tournaments.

Advertising and product placement

There is advertising in this game, including:

  • Some ads are identified by ‘(AD)’ before the video’s name.
  • Some videos are basically ads by the nature of their content eg. Unboxing videos, Influencer videos – These videos warrant parental guidance as they are not suitable for children due to their subtle advertising and younger children especially are unlikely to understand the way they are being manipulated.
  • Many videos contain tags that ask viewers to subscribe to their Facebook or Twitter sites or write to their email if, for example, they want more lessons.
  • Some ‘How to’ videos are showing how to assemble a product (eg Lego) or play a game (eg Minecraft), intrinsically endorsing the product or platform, whilst some show how to dance or play an instrument etc and often advertise the presenters’ services or related merchandise at the end of the video.
  • Generally the advertising is acceptable for the target audiences given parents educate their children not to contact any of the presenters. As mentioned, the manipulative nature of some of the videos (eg Unboxing and Influencer videos) underlines the need for parents to check their child’s WATCH LIST regularly to assist in educating the child toward informed and safe viewing practises.

See ‘Reviewer’s comments’ for more details.

Gender stereotypes and sexual references

None noted.

Whilst the app does not intrinsically present any stereotypes, the reviewer saw many examples of this in some of the available videos and so some care with choosing what your child has access to is highly recommended on this particular point alone.

Coarse language

None noted.

Game playing behaviour which may be of concern to some parents

None noted.

Please see 'Reviewer’s comments' above.

The auto-play feature, which may lead to too much time viewing the videos, requires supervision by parents, which can be done by reviewing the child’s Watch List and then further controlling the filters in the parental controls. Parents can put a time limit on the viewing through the settings that switch off access to the child’s profile at the set time.

Other

N/A.

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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

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Gambling content advice

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. These icons signal simulated gambling activity and where none was noted.

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