The web’s largest video-sharing has launched a kid-safe, family-friendly version of its service on a new Android and iOS app, according to various media reports.
The YouTube Kids app is a free to download and features a home screen with eight tiles, each depicting popular children’s shows such as Sesame Street, Yo Gabba Gabba and Thomas the Tank Engine.
Above those images are five easy-to-use icons, including a television set for kids shows, a radio for video clips featuring popular songs, a light bulb for educational programming and a pair of binoculars that will allow the kids to search top videos, according to USA Today.
Forbes added that the app will also be receiving an exclusive, new original series from Reading Rainbow host LeVar Burton. That series, uTech, will focus on next generation technology. Other content providers for the app include Dreamworks TV and National Geographic Kids.
The music section contains videos such as the sing-along version of “Let it Go” from the popular Disney film Frozen, and the user-generated content selected to be features on the app includes how-to videos, Minecraft video game walk-throughs, and more, CNN.com said.
A better place for kids
YouTube has reportedly been working on YouTube Kids for several months now, and a team of in-house engineers have teamed up with third-party advocacy groups like Common Sense Media to develop the app. YouTube Kids will also feature a timer that parents can set to shut down the app after a pre-determined amount of time and reactivating only when a password is entered.
In addition, comments have been disabled in order to prevent the youngsters from encountering profanity while using the app, and the software will block attempts to search for a banned word like ‘sex’ or a curse word, Forbes added. YouTube Kids will feature support for voice commands as well, since some younger children are unable to type, the website added.
“Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids,” Shimrit Ben-Yair, the group product manager on the YouTube Kids project, told USA Today, noting that interest in family-friendly programming is growing faster than the video service as a whole. “(Year over year) we’ve seen 50 percent growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200 percent.”
Google is licking their chops
According to CNN, the free app will generate income for YouTube’s parent company, Google, by playing ads specifically targeted to children. Ben-Yair said that all of the commercials will be evaluated during an extensive review process, and in compliance with COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act), users will not be asked to log in to use the app.