Google launched YouTube Kids on Android and iOS earlier this year to accommodate parents who want to ensure that little eyes and ears only have access to regulated and curated quality entertainment. Originally only available in the United States, Google has pushed the service and app to several other countries. Now available in Canada (excluding Quebec), UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand, kids can watch videos on almost any phone or tablet, and parents can feel more secure about what their children are seeing.
As more visual entertainment moves away from television and onto small screens, standards and protections have to be made available. The Wild West of content on the internet needs a way to fit structured distribution models if it can be accepted into a family home.
YouTube Kids has received many positive reviews, including an in-depth analysis here at GeekDad by Bill Shribman. The features include a great variety of parental controls such as a timer function to limit how much little ones can watch, a search function (complete with voice search) that can be turned on or off, disabling Chromecasting, and no need to log into an account. This last one is of key importance, since most jurisdictions prevent collecting user data from those under 13 years of age.
There’s no built-in way to lock the app so children can’t hop out and start browsing with your phone. If you’re running Android 5.1 or newer, you do have the option to pin the screen. For older versions of Android, there are a number of 3rd party apps that let you lock down access to only specific apps.
In Canada, the service will not be available in Quebec. The official statement is that “Quebec is a unique environment and we’re not launching YouTube Kids in the province at this time.” It’s likely due to strict French-language broadcast laws in that province, proving that online content distribution still has a lot of hurdles to jump
Google has also recently launched “ad-supported” labels in the Google Play store. Along with efforts this year like getting Android on TVs with the Nexus Play, and replacing your home router with the OnHub, Google is making its strongest push ever towards getting the Google ecosystem into family homes