YouTube’s official app just for kids was today released in Australia, but YouTube Kids has already attracted criticism for the way it advertises to children.
The premise behind the free app is that it’s safer and easier for children to use, while appeasing parents with the ability to set a passcode and a daily viewing limit with a timer. The kids will have access to videos, channels and playlists with appropriate content.
The app is designed to be kid-friendly, with big buttons, easier scrolling, an instant full screen, and for those little ones who can’t yet spell, there’s voice control. Childhood favourites like Play School and Thomas & Friends are built into YouTube Kids, while videos are categorised into either shows, music, learning or explore.
The app was released in the USA earlier this year, and drew the ire of some consumer groups, concerned about product placement.
“It’s just one, long, uninterrupted ad,” Democratic Media’s Jeff Chester told USA Today. “It turns back the clock 30 years in terms of the role that advertising plays in kids’ programming.”
As part of its app description, YouTube Kids explains that it “contains paid ads in order to offer the app for free. Your child may also see videos with commercial content from YouTube creators that are not paid ads”.
YouTube has said in a statement that it is working with child advocacy groups “to develop the service and uses algorithms and manual testing to ensure videos are child-friendly”.
(via Business Insider)