YouTube is announcing “supervised experiences,” a new set of restrictions that allows parents to better control what content their children can access on the streaming video platform. According to a blog post, YouTube hopes the filters will help parents slowly introduce their older children to age-appropriate content and features outside of the YouTube Kids app. The program will launch first with an early beta, with a wider beta rolling out “in the coming months.”
Parents have three levels of strictness to choose from, which determines the content a child is allowed to view on their account. There’s the “Explore” level, which YouTube says is “generally suitable” for kids nine and up’ “Explore More,” which is meant for kids 13 and up; and “Most of YouTube,” which is pretty much everything except age-restricted content. In the US, and most other countries, people over the age of 13 can make their own unsupervised YouTube accounts.
Parents choose a content level for their children’s account. Image: YouTube
It isn’t clear exactly what content will be allowed at which levels, but YouTube says the “Explore” level will have “vlogs, tutorials, gaming videos, music clips, news, educational content and more.” As the name suggests, the “Explore More” level will have a wider range of videos, as well as live streams for the aforementioned “Explore” categories. The company says that “Most of YouTube” will contain “sensitive topics that may only be appropriate for older teens.”
For all its promise, YouTube’s supervised experiences is still a system that relies on user input, human review, and machine learning. YouTube knows it won’t be perfect, admitting that it “will make mistakes,” which we’ve seen happen with the Kids app. As such, parents shouldn’t think of it as a “set it and forget it” solution. They’ll still need to remain vigilant.
Nevertheless, the new content options should help parents with children who feel too confined by the Kids app (which YouTube still recommends for younger kids) but are too impressionable to be exposed to the full YouTube experience. YouTube can be a dangerous place full of misinformation and conspiracy, so it’s good to see Google giving parents tools to help ease their children into it.