It’s probably just a coincidence, but shortly after Netflix revealed an expansion of its children’s offerings this morning, YouTube did what its rival down the virtual street did and let loose with an announcement for YouTube Kids.
Initially available on iOS and Android devices, YouTube Kids is now available as an app on Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles and smartTVs, meaning that children and families can now watch it on big screen TVs.
That was the big news. YouTube also took the opportunity to boast of new shows from HooplaKidz, TuTiTu, SciShow Kids, DreamWorksTV and its lineup of guest-curated video playlists from educators, celebs and parents including National Geographic Kids, Kid President and actress Geena Davis (“Girl Power: Awesome female characters for kids!”). More will be added soon from YouTube creators including Vsauce and Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls.
YouTube Kids has also added a customizable passcode option. In the coming weeks, it will introduce a tutorial that appears when the app is opened, explaining upfront how the system chooses and recommends content, as well as how parents can flag videos. It also prompts parents to choose how broadly their children can explore by turn search on or off.
The latter option is significant, as it helps address complaints that YouTube Kids is not as child-proofed as it should be. A group calling itself the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in May, alleging that YouTube Kids features channels sponsored by such brands as Barbie, Fisher-Price, and Play-Doh. Ads for My Little Pony and Care Bear Toys that play with ads hawking toys based on characters in the videos, which is a violation of FTC rules. For instance, on the Lego Friends channel, Lego Friends cartoons are intermingled with Lego Friends commercials and videos of real people playing with Lego Friends figurines.