YouTube gives parents more control over its Kids app

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids has been criticised in the past for allowing unsuitable vides Credit AP

"Automated flagging enables us to act more quickly and accurately to enforce our policies", YouTube said, adding that since introducing the system, more than half of videos removed for violent extremism had fewer than 10 views.

Starting this week, parents will be able to choose from a selection of "trusted" channels if they don't want their kids to have access to the broad selection of content on Kids. But its official terms of agreement are largely ignored by tens of millions of children and their families who don't bother downloading the under-13 app.

Currently, children can use the app's search function to watch videos, but these videos available through search are not subject to human review, but are selected by a special algorithm trained to return appropriate results, according to YouTube. Inappropriate videos have also surfaced on YouTube Kids, including weird conspiracy videos.

News stories range from the relatively benign - like Tuesday's hack that wiped out highly-viewed music videos like last year's hit "Despacito", to the more disturbing, like reports - also from Tuesday - that the platform was serving in-video ads linking to hardcore porn.

In a bid to give parents more control, YouTube Kids on Thursday announced three new features around the content available in the app.

There will be three new YouTube Kids safety features rolling out this year, with the first slated to arrive sometime this week. Rumours of a hand-curated YouTube Kids app surfaced earlier this month, and now Google and YouTube have announced more controls for parents to restrict what videos and channels their kids are watching, including limiting them to hand-curated content. The company says its machine learning processes can take several days to evaluate a video.

But this doesn't always work very well as the computers can make mistakes, and inappropriate videos have repeatedly appeared on YouTube Kids.

YouTube Kids is Google's kid friendly version of YouTube. A human doesn't check the videos before they're added, but parents can flag videos they find alarming later and a content reviewer will check it out. It's possible this safety guard isn't sufficient for catching every odd video your kid might see.

About 1.6 million videos were removed after users, activist organisations or governments flagged them. These videos have included Spiderman urinating on Frozen's Elsa, Peppa Pig drinking bleach, and Micky Mouse getting run over by a vehicle.

YouTube Kids still has its main library available by default for now, and the company says it is working on more controls for parents.

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