+ Saturday December 7th, 2019
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YouTube Kids seemed like a great idea when it was first launched, with the promise of a child-friendly version of YouTube that parents could plonk their kids in front of for some appropriate, curated TV time.

However, it seems that it didn’t quite work out that way. An FTC investigation found that Google’s algorithmic selection of videos had a tendency to lead kids away from safe content from time to time, instead pointing them at stuff that really isn’t suitable for kids anywhere.

As if that weren’t bad enough, Google was also collecting data on the kids watching habits, and used that information to drive targeted advertising. That’s an even bigger no no, and violates some key laws in the US designed to prevent precisely this behaviour.

The US Federal Trade Commission is reaching settlement stage with Google over these behaviours, and it’s rumoured there’s going to be a $150m to $200m fine (USD). This amount – roughly equivalent to two or three months YouTube ad revenue – is unlikely to be much of a deterrent by itself to the search giant, but hopefully it will be enough (with the negative publicity to boot) to get Google to change the ways it runs the YouTube Kids service.

Just last week, Google released an update to the YouTube Kids app which segregates content into that suitable for 5-7 year olds, and that suited to an older 8-12 year audience. However, if your kids are any like the kids I know, they’d rather watch videos of people play video games like Mario Odyssey or Super Smash Brothers.

YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free

Chris Rowland   Managing Editor

Chris Rowland

Chris has been at the forefront of smartphone reporting in Australia since smartphones were a thing, and has used mobile phones since they came with giant lead-acid batteries that were "transportable" and were carried in a shoulder bag.

Today, Chris publishes one of Australia's most popular technology websites, Ausdroid. His interests include mobile (of course), as well as connected technology and how it can make all our lives easier.

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Luke Roberts
Ausdroid Reader

I was on the original you tube kids bandwagon! Thought it fantastic and from what I can tell, never really got any inappropriate content. However, what I did come to notice was the absolute mind-numbing rubbish that IS on there… how did we end up with our Kids addicted to watching other kids play with toys… instead of playing with toys themselves???? Surely there is something wrong with the world when my daughter could spend 2 hours watching faceless kids play “barbies” …. honestly… I have now changed it to just be approved channels – there are a few good… Read more »

Philip Clark
Ausdroid Reader

Or you could try, you know, making them do something without a screen…

Luke Roberts
Ausdroid Reader

Hi Philip Clark,

Lovely to meet you.

You obviously know a whole lot about my family! It truly is amazing how well you know us given, you know, we have never even met!!

Oh…and I totally respect your obvious expertise in parenting in the modern age….

I mean, you MUST know us personally and you MUST be an expert in parenting – or how else could you be in a position to make such knowledgeable and insightful comments?

Please, feel free to share any other amazing bits of wisdom you may have.

Lucas Ralston
Guest
Lucas Ralston

My 6YO son loves watching Youtube Kids through Fetch TV. My girlfriend doesn’t like Youtube Kids as she’s read that Google’s algorithms doesn’t prevent all adult content from being accessed by kids. So she sat with him letting him watch all his favorite shows. But she has never seen any inappropriate video content on Youtube Kids. She does complain about all the crap he watches on it, such as kids doing unboxing of toys. Families buying tonnes of plastic balls or gooey substances, throwing it at each other to make a video then obviously throwing it in the bin after… Read more »

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