YouTube Kids has just been released and its purpose is to help parents control what kids watch on YouTube. The content filters come built-in meaning YouTube decides (based on video rating and content) what types of videos are appropriate for young viewers. What it leaves in the hands of the parent is how long a child may use the app, and whether a child can freely search for videos. The settings are secured behind a PIN that will fool kids so long as they can’t read numbers. Here’s how the parental controls work in the new app.
Timers and search restrictions can be accessed through the app’s security settings. The settings can only be unlocked if you enter the PIN number shown in words next to a numerical keypad. Tap the little padlock icon at the bottom right corner to bring up the settings.
You’ll see the following screen and it’s a little obvious that if your kid can read the numbers, the security isn’t going to be much help. There are no options to set a custom PIN and ignore the app’s suggestions.
Once you’re past the app’s security, you can implement two different controls. The first is the timer which limits how long a child can watch videos. You can set it as high as 120 minutes. When the timer expires, the app will immediately block the video player and all suggested videos.
The second control that can be applied lets you prevent kids from searching for videos and limits them to viewing only those that are suggested on the app’s home screen. Additionally, you can also turn off the annoying sound effects the app makes as well as the background music.
That’s about it. I want to give them an A for effort but I don’t find this app to be very effective unless it’s meant specifically for kids who can’t read at all. Considering the content features videos from the Sesame Street Channel, a channel dedicated to teaching kids how to count, and let’s not forget Barney & Friends, it isn’t going to be effective for too long. I might be wrong but the parental controls are not very effective here.
The app is only available in the US app stores but will roll out to other stores in a few days.