If you have kids in your life, there’s probably a time or two where you need them to entertain themselves for a few moments. Sometimes they want to color, sometimes they’ll want to build with blocks, sometimes they want to play pretend, and sometimes they want to play with mommy or daddy’s favorite toys - their phone.
When it comes to my oldest, I let him use my phone from time to time. I have a special folder just for him, and for the most part that’s what he tends to stick to because those are what interest him the most.
However, there have been times where he’s wandered where I would rather he didn’t. In particular, he’s very fond of YouTube, and he has clicked on videos that are not exactly what I would consider suitable for him to watch. He’s old enough now to know that he can’t watch YouTube without me being the one holding the phone and okaying the videos, but he was pleased to learn today that the YouTube gods have smiled upon poor, restricted children like him and have released a version just for kids: YouTube Kids!
When I found out earlier about the app, I decided to go through it myself to give it the ol' "Mom Seal of Approval" before allowing him to use the app. I have to admit that the app is very well done. It’s bright, it’s easy to use, it’s engaging, and it keeps the parents in control.
From the very first time you open the app, the happy face tells parents that they can set time limits, turn off search, and “more”, like turning off background music and setting time limits before the app shuts down so you don’t look like the bad guy when it’s time to stop watching videos. You also have to type in a passcode every time you go to adjust the settings, which is good to know.
What makes the YouTube Kids app different from the regular YouTube app, as you probably could have guessed, is that only select videos (catered specifically to kids) are available to view. There are four categories to choose from: Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore. My son was thrilled that Peppa Pig and Pocoyo were among the shows available. Other popular shows like Yo Gabba Gabba! and Thomas & Friends are also available, among others.
The “Music” section also had a lot to offer, ranging anywhere from Baby Mozart to a special “Let It Go” channel for Frozen fans (which you can also choose not to allow your child to watch, in the case that you’re all Frozen’d out at this point and might body slam whatever demon created such a viral song).
“Education” had a PBS section, which my son was also pleased with as it has Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood clips, but was surprisingly lacking in Arthur content, to my dismay. Things picked up again after I discovered that TED-Ed was also included, though.
Finally you have “Explore”, which looked like it had a lot of miscellaneous content like a yoga channel, a hobby channel, and an extremely dangerous channel called “New Toys”... where somebody opens and thoroughly reviews new toys, which are like catnip for children. Speaking of cats, there were also some dog and cat videos, because why not start them early?
And that’s pretty much it, which is actually pretty great in itself. There’s not a whole lot to do, but there is a lot to see. The developers did a great job of picking out videos that catered to kids’ best interests. I think my only complaint is that ads are still featured, but I imagine that's what keeps it free.
As for a child’s opinion the matter, when I asked my son what he thought of the new app, he said he liked it and asked for a cup of milk. So there you have it. It’s good, and it goes well with milk (but not in milk - never in milk).