Google to launch YouTube kids app

Google is launching a kid-friendly version of its Youtube app that will show videos aimed at youngsters using its Android devices.

The free service, dubbed “YouTube Kids”, debuts on Google Play on Monday (23 February). It will sport a more child-friendly design to the original YouTube app, using big icons and fonts alongside larger tiles and images from popular kids’ shows.

Only approved content will appear on the app with some of the posts set to appear including National Geographic Kids, Thomas &Friends and LeVar Burton’s Reading Rainbow. A screenshot of the app released online yesterday evening (19 February) showed that two of the titles would be “Reading Rainbow” and “Mother Goose”.

In addition to the vetted content, parents will be able to limit the amount of time their child spends on the app by setting a timer to only allow for a specified period.

Parental controls will include the ability to set a timer to limit how much time the child spends using the app.

Google first intimated a bigger focus on kids was on the way last year. The company’s vice president of engineering Pavni Diwanjii told USA Today that a “big motivator” inside the company is a push to change its products to be “fun and safe” for children.

It is not yet clear how Google plans to generate money from the app and consequently the opportunities for brands. One possibility could be a subscription-based model for additional services and content or the possibility of running ads. Any move to sell ads on kid-friendly service is likely to raise concerns from some parents and action groups over internet safety issues.

Google’s app would have to had complied with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act in the US, which means parents must be notified if personal information on their child is collected.

The move follows Vine's kid-friendly version of its app last month – bringing youngsters its best bite-sized clips.

Google declined to comment. when approached by The Drum.

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