And
Or
★★★ Open House ★★★
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YouTube Kids
© 2015 Google, Inc.

CTR Review
buckleit
02/23/2015
Rating: 98%
Ease of Use
10/10
Educational
10/10
Entertaining
10/10
Design Features
9/10
Value
10/10
Total:
98%
Reviewed using the Standard Rubric
For ages 3-12
For grades P, K, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6
$free, $10/month, iPhone, iPad, Android, 45 MB
Teaches: all school subjects, language, a video delivery system, spoken English
Tagged for: All Time Best, Classic, Library Apps, Music, Android, KAPi
Update August 1, 2016: If you use YouTube Kids with YouTube Red ($10/month) you can remove paid ads and use the offline videos feature (e.g., when on a road trip). An installed YouTube Kids app and a YouTube Red membership is required. You must first go into the parental controls section of the YouTube Kids app and sign in to your YouTube Red account. More details are at http://www.youtube.com/red/kids.

ARCHIVED REVIEW: Satisfy your child's video appetite for puppies, geckos, Disney, Mr. Rogers -- and millions more, with this free, filtered app from Google -- the owners of YouTube. Designed for Android or iOS, YouTube Kids marks the first time Google has created a product specifically for children under age 13. It's a welcome sign of leadership from the search giant.

The best news? The searching is Google-fast and 95% worry free (more on the 5% below). Most importantly, this resource doesn't feel overly sanitized or diluted. You'll like it as much as your child. The double-sized icons and voice search enhance both the finding and the browsing process. For children who want to browse, the curated videos are grouped under four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore. For children looking for something specific, the app provides two ways to search... by typing or by talking. Both are excellent language experiences. To test the app's depth and filtering ability, we tried searches on common but random topics like rabbits, french fries and trumpets, and found enough results to earn a strong recommendation.

The default filtering takes a very conservative view on the obvious words like "boob" and "sex," generating the message "Try searching for something else!" The search word "reproduction" pulled up plenty of blush-free science-related videos on plant and cell division. There's no shortage of sponsored material, and we were able to find some pictures of nudes in a drawing tutorial, hence the 5% worrisome content.

The truth is that no search engine is completely perfect, so it's always smart to keep an eye on any child's screen. You may find, for example, that a six hour sitting of kitten videos may feel unhealthy. It's also possible to turn off searching, using features offered behind an age gate that requires reading numerals. This is "soft" security -- it would be easy for a motivated older child to hack through this age gate.

There are some minor quirks to know about: the default background music is bothersome but can be turned off, and there are some strange swiping sounds that happen when you move through a set of video icons that seem obtrusive and not directly paired to a child's actions. But those too can be turned off. A timer feature makes it easy for a parent to limit a child's passive viewing time.

So what's missing? The comments, social media links, videos of suicide bombings and adult-oriented advertising. Specific video information is also removed. You can't see how many times the video has been viewed, and there is no "like" -- because there is no sign-in. What's not missing are the ads -- this is, afterall, how YouTube pays for this free app. Know that your child will be exposed to a lot of advertising when they use YouTube Kids.

YouTube Kids is available as a free download in some countries on Google Play (Android-based devices) and the App Store (iPads and iPhones), and (according to Google). It is a welcome and highly recommended addition to every child's tablet, large and small, providing you keep an eye on the screen.

Some other notes:

- Parental setup is needed (and recommended) to customize this app for your child.

- The free version of YouTube Kids contains paid ads. Your child may also see videos with commercial content from YouTube creators that are not paid ads, even in the Red version.

- Videos in the app are selected by our automated systems, and no system is perfect. It is possible that your child may find something you don’t want them to watch. You can flag offending videos but you have no way to directly remove videos.

- You further restrict your child’s experience by turning the search options off in the “grown-ups only” lock. This means your child can’t search for content, which greatly reduces the chances of inappropriate content.

- Whether search is on or off, the app will recommend videos selected by YouTube's automated systems.

As of August 2016, YouTube Kids app is available in the US, UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Spain and Canada excluding Quebec. YouTube Kids is available with YouTube Red in the US, Australia and New Zealand. See https://support.google.com/youtubekids/?hl=en#topic=6130504 for an updated list.
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I have concerns about this app. Parents may be lulled into a false sense of security, kind of like the television advertising "set it and forget it," you might still get burned. The timer feature in this app is easily negated by leaving the app and returning. The content, while perhaps not harmful, can be questionable... turning off searching helps some, as a child searching for "birthday" pushed search after only typing "birth" and ended up with video/screencast of a video game of Elsa from Frozen giving birth, including the need to inject medicine and cutting the cord. We could talk about the amount of advertising, but you already mentioned that above. While I applaud the possibilities, this app is not one I would give an A+ rating.