Late holiday gift for parents – YouTube Kids App

Most of my blog posts focus on teens and what they are doing online. With touchscreens and tablets, younger and younger kids are playing in the digital world. Like the real world, there are places in the digital world where you do not want your kids hanging out. How do parents allow young kids the freedom to explore while keeping them out of adult spaces?

This is a tough question. Take YouTube. Kids love watching YouTube with so many choices of cartoons, shows, tutorials and music. Here, a child can find a humorous Minecraft video right next to one full of swearing that would make most parents cringe. Kapersky Lab found that kids, clicking on YouTube’s suggested videos displayed beside children’s programs, were just three clicks away from adult content. YouTube does have a safe mode. While this may eliminate some of the adult content, it doesn’t remove all of it.

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This Monday, YouTube released its own video app just for kids.  YouTube Kids is available on Google Android and Apple IOS. The YouTube Kids app is not YouTube with more parental controls. This app is designed for kids and has only content appropriate for children. Kids can browse channels and playlists in four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. Yesterday, I played around with this new app.

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YouTube Kids has great content from DreamWorksTV to PBS Cyberchase. It does appear to be aimed primarily at younger kids, I would say less than 8. The app does not require kids or parents to create an account. Simply download the app and start watching videos. YouTube Kids does have commercials. Like YouTube, kids can skip it after 5 seconds and unlike YouTube these commercials are kid friendly.

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If a child tries to venture outside the confines of kid appropriate videos by searching for “sex” or other inappropriate terms they see this screen. Parents can also turn off the search function.

youtube kids search
YouTube Kids has parental controls. Parents can set these controls by tapping the lock symbol in the bottom left corner. After entering a random 4-digit pincode, parents can turn off the search function, background music as well as set a timer for how long kids can watch videos. The random 4-digit pincode may work well for a child who cannot read but an older child could certainly enter the code themselves and turn off the controls. When using the timer, parents should still keep an eye on the clock.

youtube kids pincode
Google says this is the first step toward a YouTube for families and is interested in feedback. Parents can send their thoughts to Google in “Feedback” within the app. They can also use Feedback if they find content not safe for kids. We need more companies creating family friendly products instead of slapping an over 13 warning in their Terms of Service. Hopefully, YouTube Kids is a sign of more great products to come.

vine #10

Vine App – What can you do in 6 seconds?

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Vine is the video app to watch. Twitter launched Vine in January and it now has over 40 million users. Vine sits at #10 on iTunes free app chart, right behind Instagram. What makes Vine different from other video apps is it has no special tricks, just sharing 6 seconds of video on a continuous loop. Vine has all sorts of videos ranging from the humorous and clever to the silly and stupid and finally the terribly offensive.

vine optionsVine takes after its founder Twitter; it is Twitter with video. One of the reasons, I think teens like it is there is no pressure to make a masterpiece. Vine has no special filters or editing tools, teens record 6 seconds of anything and either post it or delete it.

Like Twitter, Vine is a social network where you have followers and people you are following. Your followers can comment on or like your videos. Videos can be shared widely by revining them or posting them to Facebook or Twitter.

All Vine accounts are automatically public. This means, anyone can see your profile and videos and anyone can share them and post them outside of Vine. Now, you can choose to have a protected account. With a protected account, your videos are visible only to your approved followers and only you can share your videos. Users cannot choose to make some videos private and some public. Like Twitter, it is all or nothing. Continue reading