TORONTO – YouTube is releasing a new app for children next week.
The new app, called YouTube Kids, will run on smartphones and tablets and focus on kid-appropriate content, reports PC Mag.
The free app from Google Inc’s online video service will be available for download from Feb. 23 and will feature kid-friendly design, with big icons and minimal scrolling, according to details seen by Reuters.
“At a time when a child’s access to media can be overwhelming and filled with empty calories, I’m excited that YouTube Kids is making this commitment to give families a safe environment to spark curiosity while still entertaining,” Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton said in a statement.
The Android app, which will be separate from the mainstream YouTube mobile app, will also feature parental controls such as a timer that can be used to limit a child’s screen time.
YouTube had testers from parental groups such as Common Sense Media involved in the beta phase.
“Parents were constantly asking us, can you make YouTube a better place for our kids? We’ve seen 50% growth in viewing time on YouTube, but for our family entertainment channels, it’s more like 200%,” Shimrit Ben-Yair, the app’s product manager, told USA Today.
MailOnline reports the app will launch with content from Jim Henson TV, DreamWorks, National Geographic, and a handful of popular YouTubers and new series, such as Thomas the Tank Engine.
“The news that YouTube plans to launch a kid-friendly video app will be welcomed by security savvy parents,” said David Emm, principal security researcher, Kaspersky Lab.
“Our research shows that children can be as little as three click away from inappropriate or adult content on the video platform.
“Examining YouTube’s “suggested” videos which sit visibly alongside clips or episodes of popular children’s television programmes such as Peppa Pig, Rastamouse and Dora the Explorer, our researchers have found that, on average, users are just three clicks away from content better suited to a more mature audience.”
In December, USA Today reported that Google was planning to roll out child-friendly versions of its most popular products in a bid to be “fun and safe for children.”
Internet companies such as Google and Facebook Inc do not offer their services to children under 13.