App Review: YouTube Kids

January 24, 2017

Let me share this bit of info with you: I have no kids, but I do have nieces and nephews from my siblings. One thing that I think parents of today must think about that our parents never had to consider when we were kids is the exposure of kids to the videos that are available online. Our parents didn’t have to worry much about what we watched because there were only a handful of TVs back in the day and there were only certain times when we could watch television. These days, with viewing no longer limited to the gazillion channels available on cable, regulating what children can watch has become more difficult to manage. Kids and YouTube videos today are what TV was to my generation I guess.

My 3-year old nephew knows how to operate our phones and tablets when it comes to gaining access to his favorite cartoons online. We have games and apps installed that are just for him and he knows how to unlock and open the apps to get what he wants.

app review
My nephew busy learning the alphabet on YouTube Kids

One thing that surprised me and made me realize that we needed to make an extra effort towards regulating what he watched online was when he was watching a Claymation video on YouTube. It featured cartoon characters so we didn’t pay much attention to it at first. It was only when we realized (OK, heard) that Spiderman sexually harassed Elsa (yes, you read that right) and got her pregnant that we realized that letting the little kid use YouTube on his own was not exactly the best thing to entertain him. Unless there was such a thing as a kid friendly YouTube, it was now out of the question.

I know we should have used the parental lock and we should have been able to supervise his viewing more than we have but what’s done is done. We decided to not let him use YouTube on his own until, thankfully, we discovered YouTube kids.

The YouTube Kids app is the same as the parent app, only this one features wholesome videos that are all kid-friendly. I like that the initial setting of the app lets you identify the age group of the child who will be using the app so that they will show videos that are appropriate for that child. The interface is also very simple and is fit for kids to use. It’s bigger and much easier to select videos from.  It also has a top menu that lets you select between shows, music, educational videos and featured videos to explore. The selection uses icons that even kids can understand.

My nephew doesn’t use the search feature but we usually use it to search for his favorite videos, which later became part of the start page under suggested videos. As you keep using the app, it will suggest videos that are like the ones being viewed on it. For my nephew, these are Thomas & Friends and kiddie songs videos, as well as Ryan’s Toy Review vids.  He has become so used to the app that he goes straight to it and ignores the YouTube app that he used to watch videos from.

The app has a Parental Control feature that allows you to lock or block certain videos so that the child will not be able to view them. So far, we haven’t had any need for it. You can also cast the video to your TV but from my experience, it slows down the video playback so we prefer leaving the viewing on the tablet instead.

I love that there are many educational videos that are on the featured videos, my nephew has been learning about the alphabet and animals and their sounds from them. I love that he is learning new words there as well, it reminds me of the days when I was a child and learning all that I could on Sesame Street (which, coincidentally, is also one of the viewed videos on the app – the little one knows how to sing along to the Elmo Song).

My only disappointment here is we often get errors when playing videos. My nephew gets upset when that happens because he doesn’t understand what is going on. It would also help if like the parent app, the video quality here can be adjusted so that the videos can load faster. Kids have a slow attention span and if the internet access is slow, the videos take too long to load and are difficult to watch. If we can adjust it or if it can auto-adjust per net speed, that would be great.

Overall, I think this is a good app for kids to use. My nephew loves it so I’m fine with it. As long as they keep that insane Claymation video out of this one I’m good.

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