YouTube's newest features will protect kids from data mining

YouTube Premium on a Galaxy S9
YouTube Premium on a Galaxy S9 (Image credit: Joe Maring / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google is rolling out the first of the changes to its YouTube platform aimed at protecting kids.
  • YouTubers are now able to mark videos as aimed at children, which disables comments, live chat, and data collection features.
  • Google still recommends YouTube Kids for children under the age of 13.

YouTube was earlier fined $170 million back in September 2019 for not doing enough to protect kids, and now Google is rolling out a series of changes to rectify that.

First of all, YouTubers can now mark their videos as made for kids or not using a new YouTube Studio option. A video counts as being made for kids "if it is intended for kids, taking into consideration a variety of factors. These factors include the subject matter of the video, whether the video has an emphasis on kids' characters, themes, toys or games." Google will also have a set of tools that can apply a rating, but the firm says that it'll give discretion to creators and override only in cases of abuse.

YouTube will also treat all data from users watching children's content as if it were being watched by a child, regardless of the user's started age. When watching a video marked as for kids, you won't see comments, live chat, notification bell, etc. The firm will also limit the data collected from such videos. Presumably, this is because children's content could be watched on a parent's device or with a family, and Google wants to be as thorough as it can.

Google's best bet for kids is still the YouTube Kids app and the company still recommends it for children under 13. The content there is actively curated, despite a few hiccups, and all the data collection features are disabled in their entirety. Of course, kids may find it a little patronizing, but that's up for parents to handle.

Here's what parents need to know about YouTube Kids

Michael Allison