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A year ago, YouTube revamped the site to fix its bad reputation as a place for kids.
Now the question is, has YouTube gotten better for kids?
YouTube says yes, although parents should be aware that it's difficult to check on the company's progress.
In today's newsletter, let's talk about how YouTube needs to encourage more helpful and informative videos for kids after a series of disturbing scandals. I'll also cover areas where experts say YouTube is still weak.
I hope you understand how your choice of YouTube affects what your child (and you) will watch most. This knowledge should not make you feel guilty or manipulated. Consider it information to help you make an informed choice.
If you yell "NOT" at kids watching YouTube, that's fine. But the reality is that most American kids watch YouTube with or without a tutor. This means kids and adults alike will benefit as they learn how to get the most out of YouTube and get a peek behind the scenes.
I'll be back at The Tech Friend next week with some handy tips to help your family get the most out of YouTube and other digital media.
Let's take a look at the big changes for YouTube in 2021 and how the company is transforming kids' experiences on the world's most popular video site.
After consulting with child development experts, YouTube has developed "quality" video recommendations for children and families. And it started rewarding those videos by showing them more often and giving those video creators more opportunities to monetize video ads.
Offerings include YouTube Kids, a standalone app for young children, as well as kid-friendly videos from the main YouTube site.
In fact, YouTube used its software, popularity, and wallet for entertainment that the company thought would be good for kids.
For example, YouTube considers videos high quality if they encourage children to brush their teeth, demonstrate creative activities like arts and crafts, or teach life skills like problem solving. Videos with overly commercial messages or featuring child characters in "unacceptable situations" will be less likely to be shared on YouTube under the policy change.
It was a significant change, at least on paper. Many of the most popular children's videos on YouTube show children opening new toys or doing other material things. YouTube has also had to crack down on disturbing videos involving children, including a clip showing Peppa Pig being tortured by a dentist.
YouTube is constantly changing its software to distinguish certain types of applications from others. Last year wasn't the first time YouTube tried to prioritize higher quality children's videos. However, a 2020 study found that in an analysis of children under the age of eight, nearly three-quarters of YouTube videos viewed had “no or little educational value.”
According to YouTube, the changes that started a year ago are working. YouTube told me that YouTube Kids saw a more than 45% increase in views of videos with quality content.
There are three important caveats to measuring YouTube's progress.
First, YouTube only provides specific data for videos viewed in a kid's app that have views on YouTube's main page. The company says regular YouTube views for quality children's programs have increased, but not as much as for children.
Second, strangers can't check what apps like YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok are doing on people's digital walls. If YouTube says kids spend more time watching quality videos, we should consider YouTube or not.
Third, what counts as "high quality" is subjective. Also, if you search YouTube for kids stuff, you will see a lot of junk and a lot of great videos. It 's YouTube.
In my conversations with child development and parenting experts, including those who advise YouTube on their video recommendations for children, they say YouTube is serious, committed, and humble, which makes enrichment fun. . .
But they also said YouTube could only do this to highlight its educational value as part of the company's business mission.
After all, the basic principle of YouTube is to give people what they find interesting. Garbage attracts children and adults.
"The way the internet engages right now is counterproductive to a design that makes sense from a child's perspective," says Jenny Radeski, behavioral development pediatrician at the University of Michigan's CS Mott Children's Hospital.
Learn more about technology and children.
➦ At what age should a child get their first phone?
➦ Congress is considering two potential new laws to better protect children's privacy or safety online. Bills have stalled in the Senate.
A small win
You have the option of preventing Google, the operator of YouTube, from storing information about the videos you watch. This means YouTube will stop recommending you videos based on what you've seen before, which can be both awesome and annoying.
How do you?
- On the Google Activity Tracking page, navigate to the YouTube History section. Turn the switch off so it turns gray. That's it.
Find out more with Heather Kelly. Google's privacy settings should now be changed.
Show your little victory. Tell us about an app, gadget or tech tip that makes your day a little bit better. We may feature your tip in an upcoming issue of The Tech Friend.