YouTube has built a separate kids-only website in the wake of growing concerns about the platform showing disturbing videos to children.
The video-sharing platform’s creepy kid problem started getting widespread public attention a couple of years ago after parents began noticing their kids were watching videos of Peppa Pig drinking bleach and Spiderman doing weird things with Elsa from Frozen. The backlash to the plague of unsettling content clearly aimed at children inspired YouTube to expand parental control on its YouTube Kids app, allowing parents to decide which channels and videos their kids could watch on their mobile devices.
On Wednesday, YouTube stealthily announced it is launching a website version of its kids mobile app sometime this week. The statement was posted on a help forum, not the YouTube blog.
The new YouTube Kids will have three separate settings for different age ranges, according to the company. A preschool setting “is designed to allow kids to watch videos that promote creativity, playfulness, learning, & exploration,” the company writes. A setting for ages 5 to 7 allows kids to also watch videos of cartoons, songs, and crafts. And a setting for ages 8 to 12 enables viewing of “family vlogs” and videos about gaming and science.
As TechCrunch points out, the announcement comes after an FTC settlement that may make YouTube direct all users under the age of 13 to a separate page that does not collect data in compliance with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). The terms of the settlement have not yet been publicly released.
YouTube’s announcement suggested creepy videos will likely still slip through the cracks, however. “Our systems work hard to exclude content not suitable for each of these age categories, but not all videos have been manually reviewed,” the notice warns. “If you find something inappropriate that we missed, you can block it or flag it for fast review.”