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  • Meerelle Cruz

YouTube Updates Default Settings for Kids Content and Adds New Promotional Restrictions

Amid continual global lockdowns that have confined everyone in their homes and limited entertainment alternatives, it's been nearly hard for parents to prevent their children from spending more and more time online, particularly watching YouTube material, to avoid cabin fever.

Traditional actors and artists no longer have as much of an impact on young people's lives as YouTube stars do, and many have developed close links with their youthful audience communities that keep them coming back. The difficulty is that this makes it more difficult for parents to monitor their children's app activities, as even the strongest content blocks and control mechanisms still allow some dubious content to pass through, and message interactions still expose them to risk. However, with many parents working from home, many are left crossing their fingers and hoping for the best, which is not the best strategy to protect children from content exposure.

By this, YouTube has announced several new steps today to help safeguard young users from problematic content and undesired exposure on the platform, including new default privacy settings for young people's uploads, as well as additional warnings and prompts to help prevent misuse.

To begin with, YouTube says it will improve the default privacy settings for uploads from users aged 13 to 17 to "the most private option available" in the coming weeks. With private uploads, just the user and whoever they select can see the content. YouTube wants to assist younger users in making educated decisions about their online footprint and digital privacy, including encouraging them to choose whether or not they want their content to be public. If the user wants to make their movie public, they can modify the default upload visibility setting, and YouTube will send them notifications about who can watch it.

So kids may still change the defaults, but YouTube hopes that by utilizing this as a starting point, younger users would become more aware of the risks involved, potentially minimizing undesirable exposure to the app. YouTube is also addressing usage with the addition of 'take a break' and bedtime reminders, both of which are enabled by default for all users aged 13 to 17.

For these users, Youtube will also switch off autoplay by default. Users can adjust their default settings if they determine they aren't the correct digital well-being features for them. So, once again, clever kids can simply turn off these settings if they want to - and most of them are far more sophisticated and attentive to such settings than their parents. YouTube, on the other hand, hopes to raise awareness of its numerous options in this regard by establishing new defaults, to boost safety.

Finally, YouTube is eliminating additional commercial content from YouTube Kids, which might be a major setback for kidfluencers.

"We've never allowed paid product placements in YouTube Kids, our destination for younger kids. In the coming weeks, we’ll also begin to remove overly commercial content from YouTube Kids, such as a video that only focuses on product packaging or directly encourages children to spend money."

Last year, YouTube made significant revisions to its rules around ad placements in videos aimed at children, which have already caused huge issues for content makers in this genre. These new laws will limit their revenue possibilities even further - and when you consider that the platform's top overall earner, Ryan Kaji, made $29.5 million in 2020, only generates a video for children, there's certainly a lot of money to be made in this category. In this regard, the new laws will necessitate a reevaluation for these producers, as YouTube prioritizes the well-being of its users before profit.

Given the growing popularity of YouTube as a source of entertainment, and in light of the COVID mitigation efforts, it seems logical for YouTube to introduce more features to help parents better regulate their children's time and exposure to the app.

Those modifications will have some consequences for creators, but most of them can be mitigated by children who are likely more knowledgeable about such situations than you are. However, by making these settings, it may be possible to enhance awareness and prevent harm in the app.

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