Google is launching a version for kids of YouTube that will feature appropriate content and controls, in line with its strategy to redesign some of its products for use by this segment.
The free app, called YouTube Kids, will be available from Monday in the U.S. on Google Play, a Google spokesman said Friday.
Kids are seen as the next big opportunity for Internet companies. A number of kids are known to lie about their age to wrangle accounts on social networks.
Google did not comment on whether it would display advertisements to its young users. The company is discussing raising revenue from ads in the application, the Wall Street Journal reported.
“The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children,” Pavni Diwanji, vice president for engineering at Google, told USA Today in December. Google products have been made with adults in mind and need to be redesigned for kids, she added.
Google’s move is, however, likely to come under scrutiny from both parents and regulators as the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) in the U.S. has strict rules on the mining of a child’s personal information. Internet companies have to get the parent’s verifiable consent before collecting, using or disclosing personal information from a child, according to COPPA rules.
The new app will filter out certain search terms on it, USA Today said in a report Thursday. If a child types in a word such as “sex,” a message prompts the kid to try something else, the report said.
The app will give parents control over how much time the child can spend on it, according to sources. Parents will also have the ability to turn off search and sound. Channels and playlists will be organized into four categories: Shows, Music, Learning and Explore.