YouTube has built a playground for children — promising a clean, well-lit environment that excludes any of the weird and uncensored stuff on the regular site.
The free YouTube Kids app, launching Feb. 23, is slated to include videos from Jim Henson Co., Mother Goose Club, DreamWorks Animation, National Geographic Kids, Hit Entertainment and others with shows including “Sesame Street,” “Fraggle Rock,” “Thomas the Tank Engine,” “Reading Rainbow” and “Talking Tom and Friends.”
Initially, the app will be available in the U.S. for Android devices via the Google Play store — for now, it’s not available on Apple’s iOS platform. The app will carry a limited number of prescreened ads; those will be pre-roll units and won’t include any click-throughs to websites or product purchasing offers.
The YouTube Kids app provides parental controls, including a timer for watch time and the ability to toggle sound and search on or off. Channels and playlists are organized into four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore.
“The Jim Henson Company has been a long-time partner with YouTube, and it is a natural next step to continue our collaboration with the launch of the YouTube Kids app,” Richard Goldsmith, executive VP of global distribution and international consumer products, said in a statement. “The app is extremely kid-friendly and features a variety of content, including several of our series such as ‘Sid the Science Kid,’ ‘Pajanimals’ and ‘Fraggle Rock,’ and we are delighted that kids will now be able to engage with them in this safe and fun environment.”
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LeVar Burton, host of “Reading Rainbow,” said YouTube Kids is a welcome development in a media landscape of children that is often “filled with empty calories.” He’s created an exclusive original series for the app, “uTech,” about technology for the younger generation.
“I’m excited that YouTube Kids is making this commitment to give families a safe environment to spark curiosity while still entertaining,” Burton said.
In addition to the launch partners, YouTube said it expects to add kid-appropriate content from popular YouTube creators like the Vlogbrothers and Stampylonghead. “We’re so excited to finally be making educational and science content specifically for kids, especially since YouTube has put so much thought and effort into making a spectacular platform for it,” said Vlogbrothers’ Hank Green, who also is executive producer of “SciShow Kids” and “Crash Course Kids.”
According to YouTube, it worked with several kids’ and family advocacy groups to test out the app, and has received support from Common Sense Media, ConnectSafely.org, the Family Online Safety Institute, the Internet Keep Safe Coalition (iKeepSafe) and WiredSafety.org.