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Hands-on: Child-friendly YouTube Kids app launches on Android and iOS

Ian Paul | Feb. 24, 2015
YouTube is a fantastic way to keep your kids entertained with a tablet or smartphone, but it's also a little concerning. You just never know if your child will end up using the suggested videos feature to jump from Sesame Street's Elmo to a drunk Elmo parody, or view inappropriate advertising.

There are also settings to turn off the unfortunate background music that plays when a video isn't being watched. The same goes for the sound effects that occur with every tap on a video or icon. These "features" will probably drive you nuts very quickly. To change them tap on the lock symbol in the lower right corner, enter the required pin, and then tap the settings cog. On the next screen you'll see check boxes to disable the two features.

To change the app's settings or exit sleep mode when the time is up you have to enter a pin. Instead of forcing you to remember yet another four-digit combo, the app asks you to enter a numeric code that is written out as words such as "two, four, nine, zero." For most parents that security feature will stop being useful somewhere between the ages of four and six, but it's a nice thought.

YouTube Kids is a free download and is currently free to use. But we noticed during our brief time with the app that advertising was limited. I didn't personally see any ads, but my editor saw a kid-centric Khan Academy ad several times. The lack of ads raises the question of whether this app will become YouTube's next subscription-based venture in the coming months.


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