According to reports in the US, Google is about to take the wraps of a specially-designed YouTube app just for kids come Monday 23 February, which is unsurprisingly to be called ‘YouTube Kids”. This follows on from news from December last year in which it was reported Google was working on precisely projects like this.
USA Today reports:
A demo of the new app reveals a home screen dominated by eight large tiles showcasing images from popular kids shows. Above them hover five simple icons, a TV set for programs such as Thomas the Tank Engine and Yo Gabba Gabba; a radio for video renditions of popular songs; a lightbulb for educational programming such as Khan Academy; and binoculars to explore a range of top videos.
Google has worked on development of the app in conjunction with third-party testers from partner organisations, presumably to help make sure that the app is as accessible to kids as possible. The app will also feature settings for parents to limit the amount of time their kids spend watching videos via the app.
Of the development, Google’s product manager Shimrit Ben-Yair said:
Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids. (Year over year) we’ve seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200%.
The app appears to have been well designed for young fingers, with a home-screen dominated by eight large tiles showcasing images from popular kids shows. My kids love a good number of these shows, so I can see a lot of families are going to get a bit of use from something like this. Programming will be split into five channels: TV for shows like Thomas and Friends and Yo Gabba Gabba, radio for popular songs, a lightbulb for educational programming, and binoculars to explore a range of top videos.
For those older children who might seek videos they shouldn’t be looking at, Google’s built in some protections there, too. If a child deliberately or inadvertently types in a word such as “sex,” the screen pops up with a “Try something else” message. Parents who want to limit their child’s screen time can control the app’s settings through a password; when a set amount of time is up, the app turns off and can’t be started again without the password.
Sounds like a great idea to me, and I can’t wait to install it on one of our tablets for the kids to try out.