For a while now, YouTube has had mobile apps for Android and iOS that customize the YouTube experience so that it is more suitable for younger kids. It filters out as much of the more objectionable content as it can, in order to provide a safer viewing experience that is coupled with some parental controls. In the past, the apps have not been without their problems, but the website offers new hope for a safer YouTube experience for kids.
You can find the new YouTube for kids website at youtubekids.com, and the first time you visit, you will be walked through a variety of welcome screens that are designed to tailor the content for your child. The setup process can be seen in the gallery of screenshots below, and is specific to the browser that you are using. If you open a different browser and navigate to the YouTube Kids website, you get to do this all over again because there is currently no option to sign in with a Google account or to create child profiles like you can on the mobile apps. Google says this is coming soon.
If you have use the YouTube Kids app before, the web interface will look somewhat familiar. Videos are broken up into four categories – Shows, Music, Explore, Gaming – but enabling the search option will give children the ability to search for their favorite creators or specific videos. As with the YouTube Kids app, there are no comments under videos and the player interface is easy to use.
Parental controls are hidden behind a multiplication problem, but you can set your own passcode for extra security. A history button lets you see exactly what videos your kids have watched, and more controls will be enabled when sign-in support is enabled. Although you could use this website at school, it is clearly aimed more at parents with kids at home.
However, it is worth noting that according to multiple sources, (1, 2, 3, 4), Google is currently in talks with the FTC over a settlement for child privacy breaches that are not in keeping with COPPA, (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act of 1998), and a financial penalty may be imminent. There is speculation that the new YouTube for Kids website could have been released to help support the terms of this settlement and ensure that children under the age of 13 are redirected to the correct website. You can read the current YouTube Kids Privacy Notice here.