If you have children of your own, a younger sibling, or nephews and nieces, there’s a good chance that they spend a good amount of time online, and often that time is spent on YouTube. For preteens, YouTube is the top destination for streaming media content. And why not? It’s free, constantly updated with fresh content, and a lot of it is pretty entertaining.
But in recent years YouTube has attracted criticism for not sufficiently protecting children from potentially harmful content. They’ve also been criticized for profiting off of children’s personal data. In 2019 that led to a $170M fine from the FTC for a violation of COPPA (the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act).
In response, YouTube has just rolled out new policies to limit the downside for children and (let’s be honest) to minimize YouTube’s exposure to future fines and litigation.
Starting today YouTube will require content creators to identify content designed for a younger audience. That content will no longer allow commenting, live chats, push notifications, and the ability to save videos to a playlist. All of these changes are designed to reduce the amount of data that YouTube collects on its younger audience members. YouTube is also eliminating targeted ads around this content.
While this is a great first step, critics say that more needs to be done to ensure that YouTube is a safe environment for children. One options for parents is to use the separate app, YouTube Kids. This app provides more parental control features and its content is more carefully curated by YouTube.