In its latest attempt to please anxious parents, YouTube is finally offering an option to (slightly) favor human moderators over algorithms in its app for kids. The YouTube Kids app now lets parents limit the selection of channels kids can watch to those that are human-curated. Along with some other changes, this should make it less likely that junior sees a video of Peppa the Pig drinking bleach during screen time.
YouTube just announced three new options for parents to limit what shows up in the YouTube Kids app. The first is that ability to limit kids’ viewing only to channels approved by humans. (Notably, the videos in those channels are not moderated by humans.) The second, which is more of a correction, ensures that kids only see content from human-moderated channels when the search feature is turned off. The third, which is coming later this year, will let parents handpick the channels their kids can see. All of these options are opt-in.
These improvements are nice, but they also make you wonder if YouTube and parent company Google are doing enough to keep inappropriate content away from children, especially in an app that’s designed for kids. YouTube caught a lot of flack last year when multiple reports showed that creepy, scary, and even sexual seemingly kid-oriented content was showing up in its children’s app and on the site generally. The above example of Peppa the Pig drinking bleach was cited as proof that the video site’s moderation algorithms simply weren’t enough to watch over what kids could watch.
YouTube’s solution, it seems, is to give parents a little bit more control over what their kids can see. But still, algorithms are doing a lot of the work by moderating individual videos. Humans can also still flag inappropriate content, but who knows how many kids will have watched Peppa the Pig get eaten by her father by the time someone gets around to flagging it. The only real solution to keeping kids from seeing gnarly videos on YouTube is, of course, not letting YouTube babysit your kids.