YouTube Kids app hits 10 million downloads as it expands overseas

19 Nov 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »

10M downloads in, Google takes YouTube Kids app international with launch in UK and Ireland.

Answer: Though Psy’s video has racked up more than 2 billion views on YouTube since being released in July of 2012, Wheels On The Bus has actually been watched more by users (and has nearly a billion views of its own). YouTube has launched its family friendly video app YouTube Kids in Ireland, with content from Irish creators alongside established favourites such as Peppa Pig and The Magic Roundabout. It’s designed to give parents an easier time when deciding what their kids should watch, and aims to be free of potentially adult-orientated programming.

The Google-owned video giant announced Tuesday evening that its Kids App has been downloaded more than 10 million times since launching 10 months ago in February. With a bright and playful design, the application comes with larger images and bold icons, making it easier and faster for little fingers to navigate. It’s had some tweaks in design, with larger icons and voice search to help navigate. “We’ve built the YouTube Kids app to be a safer version of YouTube, a family-friendly place for kids to explore their imagination and curiosity,” the company’s head of kids and learning partnerships, said in a blog post. The ads initially ignited backlash from a handful of of children’s advocacy groups who filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission in April asking it to investigate whether the app exposes young users to unwanted commercials.

A few months after launch, two consumer groups noted: “Google is deceiving parents by marketing YouTube Kids as a safe place for children under five to explore when, in reality, the app is rife with videos that would not meet anyone’s definition of ‘family friendly.’” Among the example videos they found were a Budweiser beer advertisement, a guide to red wine, and a demonstration of how to light a match and use it to set a pile of matches on fire. The coalition called on the FTC to “stop these and any other deceptive or unfair practices uncovered as a result of its investigation.” But since the complaints were filed, YouTube has ramped up its efforts to make the app more family friendly. Parents were given the opportunity to “make a choice about how broadly you want your child to explore — turn search on to access millions of family-friendly videos, or turn search off to restrict your child’s experience to a more limited set.”

We say “shouldn’t” because YouTube warns that the content is algorithm-based rather than curated and so there may be lapses that users should then flag. Parents can deactivate the search function in the app so all the kid can see is the videos that are on the home screen, which are recommended by YouTube. But whether they’re hunting for clips on why penguins waddle or looking for classic episodes of Wallace and Gromit and Postman Pat, parents keep an eye on their children’s Web experience.

YouTube Kids contains content from kid-friendly YouTubers like SevenSuperGirls and Stampy Longhead, cartoons such as Morph, Chuggington and Octonauts, how-to guides from Mister Maker, and even documentaries from National Geographic. Google last month rolled out an updated app in the U.S. to address some of the problems raised earlier this year by parents and consumer watchdogs, who complained the program was laden with advertising that kids should not be watching. In Settings, you can turn off background music and sound effects, set a custom passcode, and turn on the built-in timer to alert your kids when their session is over.

You can set a timer that ticks down and when the counter hits zero, that’s it; there’s no more bargaining about watching one more video because the one more video they watched was too short. Based on our brief tests, there is plenty of content on YouTube Kids that isn’t specifically aimed at kids, including cooking demonstrations, how-to guides for lighting fireplaces, and tech product reviews, but we didn’t find anything that would be particularly offensive to children.

The U.K., meanwhile, has bigger fish to fry: Chancellor George Osborne this week announced a new National Cyber Center meant to respond more effectively against cyber attacks. The app offers a timer mode that lets parents stipulate when videos will stop playing, and parents can also set passcodes to prevent kids accessing the settings area of the app.

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