YouTube has long had a version of its mobile app called YouTube Kids that provides a limited experience for kids in terms of videos they can watch on the platform. The app is meant to ensure that children aged four years and above watch only age-appropriate content and set a limit to their screen time.
For teens and preadolescents, YouTube acknowledges they have a different kind of need for learning and creativity. That is why the service is introducing a new capability that will allow parents to control the type of content teens and tweens can watch through a supervised account.
The new experience will launch in beta over the next few months and parents will have the option to choose from any of three different levels of access to YouTube: Explore, Explore more, and Most of YouTube. "Explore" is for children aged nine and above who are ready to use the main YouTube app and discover various types of content such as tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, and educational videos, among others. The second level allows kids aged 13 years and above to watch a broader set of content and live streams similar to those available under Explore. "Most of YouTube" provides access to almost every type of content, save for age-inappropriate videos.
YouTube also prepared a guide to help parents navigate the new options. These new content settings will be initially available to parents with kids under the age of consent as part of a test before expanding that capability.
In addition, parents can see what videos their children have watched or what keywords they've searched for directly from within their kids' account settings. This new feature complements existing parental controls available through Family Link and Google vows to introduce new capabilities in the future, including blocking content.
Although YouTube is giving parents the ability to permit their kids to watch content beyond YouTube Kids, the service will still turn off certain features for them including ads as well as in-app purchases, comments, and video creation when the new experience launches. That said, YouTube plans to work with parents in order to add some of these features "through an age-appropriate and parent controlled approach" over time.