Parents need to know that YouTube Kids is a kid-targeted portal to YouTube aimed at kids from preschoolers to tweens that features curated, ad-supported TV shows, music, educational videos, and user-created content. As of 2022, there's also a YouTube Kids website. It's worth noting that since there are regular updates, the channels and videos are always subject to change. The app has drawn lots of public scrutiny and controversy for including some clearly inappropriate videos and ads (with nudity, alcohol, and profanity), as well as fast-food and junk food ads that push unhealthy food (some of which look a lot more like entertainment than advertising, making it hard for kids to know they're being marketed to). Currently, though, YouTube Kids shows some paid ads before videos so the other content, according to the Parental Guide, can be offered for free -- but they're labeled as ads. Certain categories, like food and beverages, have been excluded, according to the developers. Kids may also see products mentioned in user-created videos, although YouTube Kids reportedly doesn't allow videos with references that are paid advertising.
If parents sign up for a YouTube Premium subscription, there are no ads, and kids can watch offline. Families can also access it via television, depending on their device. To access the full set of filters, parents will need to sign in using a Google account.
Though much of the content most kids will encounter isn't problematic, the fact that any made it into the rotation means YouTube's curation process isn't perfect (details of how titles are curated are slim; publicly, Google says it's "a mix of automated analysis and user input"), so adult oversight is key. Parental control features are available -- such as a timer, the ability to block videos or channels, and a way to disable the search feature -- and parents can create their own passcodes. Also, parents can set up accounts for their kids that are pre-populated with content customized for their child's age by selecting "Preschool" for videos geared toward kids four and under, "Younger" for kids five to seven, and "Older" to include content for kids age 8 through 12, like more gaming and music videos. Note that if you choose "Older," there's a warning that kids will see more mature content; it can include words like "f--k," scantily clad dancers, and mildly sexy content, though direct searches for those things don't work. For more control, parents can customize exactly what videos their children see by creating an account with the "Approved Content Only" setting, where parents select specific channels and videos that kids can view. A recently introduced feature lets parents share videos and channels from the main YouTube platform to their kids' limited access YouTube Kids accounts, instead of having to select items solely from YouTube Kids. Parents can revoke access to the videos at any point. Some content can't be shared, though -- including age-restricted videos, live footage, and shows or movies parents paid to rent or buy.