YouTube Pitches Safety Features for Tweens to Join Its Main Site

YouTube unveiled new safety settings to let tweens and teens roam portions of its main website with parental supervision, the company’s latest effort to lure younger viewers with appropriate content.

The world’s largest video site, owned by Alphabet Inc.’s Google, said in a blog post Wednesday that it will launch a test version of the new product in more than 80 countries.

Some parents have complained that YouTube’s Kids app is suitable for young children, but too childish for kids between the age of 8 and 13. The new effort targets this age group. It may also help YouTube keep younger viewers from departing for TikTok, a fast growing rival video service.

YouTube will offer three safety settings, depending on a child’s age and parents’ discretion. The first tier is called Explore and will feature videos suitable for ages nine and up. Explore More includes a broader swath of videos appropriate for ages 13 and up. The final tier, called Most of YouTube, will include almost all videos on the platform except for age-restricted content.

“We will use a mix of user input, machine learning and human review to determine which videos are included,” James Beser, YouTube’s director of product management for kids and family, wrote in the blog post. “We know that our systems will make mistakes and will continue to evolve over time.”

YouTube has struggled for years to balance the popularity of its service among kids and the concerns of parents and regulators about targeted advertising, privacy, toxic content and child safety. In 2019, it paid a record $170 million fine and limited ads on kids’ videos to settle claims that the company violated children’s privacy laws.

The majority of YouTube’s 20 most popular channels cater to children, even though kids under the age of 13 aren’t supposed to use the service in the U.S. The company created a separate Kids app to provide a safer environment for children. While the app has grown more popular over the years, now with 35 million users, that still pales in comparison to regular YouTube, which is used by more than 2 billion people.

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