×

YouTube Moves to Age-Restrict Weird and Disturbing Kid-Targeted Videos

YouTube has touted its YouTube Kids app as a great way for preschoolers to more safely watch videos, supposedly filtered for their appropriateness.

But some clearly out-of-bounds videos have slipped through the cracks — from a bizarre subgenre on YouTube using children’s characters in freakish, violent or sexual situations. Examples include Nickelodeon characters dying in a fiery car crash and pole-dancing in a strip club, and popular British kids’ character Peppa Pig drinking bleach or enduring a horrific visit to the dentist.

Now YouTube has adopted a new policy that it says will do more to block such outré content from landing on YouTube Kids. The move comes after YouTube this summer said it would pull advertising from content that portrays family-entertainment characters (such as, say, Mickey Mouse or Ronald McDonald) engaging in “violent, sexual, vile, or otherwise inappropriate behavior.”

“We’re in the process of implementing a new policy that age restricts this content in the YouTube main app when flagged. Age-restricted content is automatically not allowed in YouTube Kids,” YouTube director of policy Juniper Downs told the Verge, which first reported the change.

According to YouTube’s policy for age-restricted content, as part of determining if videos should be blocked from YouTube Kids, moderators will evaluate vulgar language, violence and disturbing imagery, nudity and sexually suggestive content, and the portrayal of harmful or dangerous activities.

In tandem with YouTube’s policy-review team, YouTube Kids relies in part on parents to identify content that shouldn’t be in front of children. “Our systems work hard to filter out more mature content from the app. But no system is perfect,” Balaji Srinivasan, YouTube Kids engineering director, wrote in a blog post last week. “If you find a video that you think should not be in the app, you can block it and flag it for review.”

Since YouTube Kids launched in February 2015, the algorithimically-driven app has been criticized for lacking controls to restrict kid-unfriendly videos, as well as allowing commercially-oriented content targeted at kids.

In an update that started rolling out last week, YouTube Kids now has a new setup process that gives parents and guardians more detailed information about what content to allow access to in the app. Users also can set up to eight profiles for individual children, and the design of the YouTube Kids app will change based on a kid’s age (for example, younger kids will get less text, while older kids will get more content on the home screens). The app also lets parents block access to individual videos, disable search, and set usage time limits.

The YouTube Kids app is currently available in 37 countries and has more than 11 million weekly active viewers, according to the Google-owned video platform. To date, YouTube Kids has generated more than 70 billion views.

Popular on Variety

More Digital

  • Elite Season 2

    San Sebastian: Spain’s SVOD Players Debate Competition, Brand, Talent

    SAN SEBASTIAN  — Executives from HBO, Netflix, Amazon and Movistar+ and “Elite” co-creator Darío Madrona took to the stage to field questions on the Global Impact of Spanish Series. Here, briefly, are five takeaways: 1.Spain First “La Casa de Papel” was watched by 34,355,956 Netflix accounts over its first seven days,  after a July 19 [...]

  • Tinder - Swipe Night

    Tinder's Apocalyptic 'Swipe Night' Interactive Dating Show Sets Release Date

    Tinder next month will bow its first original entertainment content — “Swipe Night,” an interactive adventure series in which viewers are forced to make dating choices on humanity’s last night on Earth. Variety previously reported details of the location-based social network/dating app service’s foray into original content, which recently wrapped production in Mexico City and [...]

  • Editorial Use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    YouTube Rolls Back Verification Changes, Says Verified Creators Can Keep Their Badge

    A day after announcing significant changes to its verification program, YouTube announced Friday afternoon that it won’t be de-verifying existing creators after all. “We heard loud and clear how much the badge means to you,” said YouTube product manager Jonathan McPhie in a blog post. “Channels that already have the verification badge will now keep it [...]

  • BLive: BitTorrent Live Streaming App to

    BitTorrent to Launch Public Beta of New Live Streaming App

    BitTorrent is getting ready to open the floodgates for its new live streaming app, dubbed BitTorrent Live: The company plans to launch a BitTorrent Live Android app on various app stores as part of a public beta test late Friday, according to a spokesperson. BitTorrent Live, which is also known as BLive, is being described [...]

  • Netflix - Apple TV

    Netflix Stock Drops After CEO Acknowledges 'Tough Competition' Coming From Disney, Apple

    Netflix shares fell as much as 7% Friday to a nine-month low, coming after CEO Reed Hastings commented that the November launches of Disney Plus and Apple TV Plus will introduce a “whole new world” of competition. Hastings, speaking at the Royal Television Society conference Friday in Cambridge, England, said, “While we’ve been competing with [...]

  • Facebook

    Facebook Suspends Tens of Thousands of Apps During Privacy Investigation

    Facebook has suspended tens of thousands of apps ever since it began investigating potential privacy abuses, the company said Friday. The apps in question had been built by around 400 developers, and a suspension doesn’t necessarily indicate actual privacy violations. Facebook began combing through millions of apps that made use of its platform after the [...]

  • tivo logo

    Tivo Plans to Launch Android TV Dongle, Tivo+ Curation App

    DVR maker Tivo is getting ready to release a new device that may not record television at all: The company plans to launch a $50 Roku-like TV dongle early next year, its new CEO Dave Shull revealed in a conversation with CNN this week. The new device will be powered by Google’s Android TV platform, [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content