YouTube Kids app goes global but retains channel ads only policy

Google's YouTube Kids app was rolled out globally last week and is now available in the UK and Ireland as children increasingly turn to tablets and smartphones for entertainment.

Despite the expansion, the video platform is sticking to showing only branded channel ads before videos as it does in the US version of the app, with pre-roll spots for food and drink still banned.

The app has been touted by the tech giant as a safe space for children looking to watch their favourite shows online – barring unsuitable ads and making use of algorithms to filter out inappropriate content. A moderating system allows parents to flag any videos they feel aren't child-friendly.

Users aren't required to log in so marketing is not targeted towards individuals. Earlier this year consumer groups called YouTube's motives into question and issued issued a joint letter to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) requesting it probe the firm over claims "it utilises unfair and deceptive marketing techniques".

Concerns have also been raised over whether YouTube can treat channels for brands, including Lego, My Little Pony or Thomas the Tank, as ads when they already have popular slots on traditional TV.

The news comes as an OfCom study indicated that only 16 per cent of children in the UK aged eight to 11 can identify the difference between search results and ads, with 39 per cent of 12 to 15 year-olds saying they didn't know how YouTube was funded.

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