Nearly four years after rolling out YouTube Kids — an app aimed at youngsters that’s supposed to block weird, sexual, violent and otherwise age-inappropriate content on the Google-owned video service — YouTube is finally giving parents and guardians full control over exactly what their children can view.
However, the parent-approved content feature is available only for the Android version of the YouTube Kids app right now; YouTube says it is “coming soon” to the iOS version. YouTube earlier this year announced plans to roll out the white-listing tool, which has been perhaps the most-requested feature among parents.
Since launching in February 2015, the YouTube Kids app has generated more than 70 billion views and now averages over 14 million weekly active viewers. The app is currently available in 40 countries and in 10 languages.
The popular YouTube Kids app, however, has occasionally fallen down on the job: In the past, some disturbing and definitely not kid-friendly videos have been discovered in the app, including content using children’s characters in violent or sexual situations. YouTube uses various algorithms in part to filter the videos that are populated in the kid-targeted app.
The new white-listing feature is designed to allay any concerns by parents that inappropriate content could show up in YouTube Kids. To use the feature, adult users of YouTube Kids must open the app’s settings, pick their child’s profile and select “approved content only.” They can then can select any video, channel or collection of channels that can be accessed by that profile. Parents can also search for a specific creator or video, but with the approved-content-only mode kids will not be able to search for content on their own.
YouTube Kids also has added new content experience for tweens (kids 8 to 12 years old) that includes additional new content, like popular music and gaming videos. The app now lets parents choose the “Older” version when setting up a new profile or updating an existing profile, in addition to the “Younger” default content experience. YouTube has started to roll out the new “Older” older experience in the U.S. with plans to expand globally.
In announcing the features, YouTube reiterated its call for parents to help report any videos they find unacceptable.
“We work hard to make videos in the app family friendly, but no system is perfect,” James Beser, product director for YouTube Kids, wrote in a blog post. “It’s always possible that a parent may find something they don’t want their child to watch in the ‘Younger’ or ‘Older’ experiences. If this happens, we ask that parents block and flag the video for review by our team.”