YouTube Help: Age-restricted content

Screenshot by Matt Elliott  CNET

Screenshot by Matt Elliott CNET

While all content on YouTube Kids is meant to be suitable for children under the age of 13, some inappropriate videos using animations, cartoons, and child-focused keywords manage to get past YouTube's algorithms and in front of kids' eyes.

After a pair of articles revealed the presence of insidious videos within the community of children's content on YouTube, the video platform is promising additional strides to protect its youngest users. These videos typically feature absurd scenarios and content that may mesmerize kids, but may also be wildly inappropriate, such as beloved characters wielding firearms, singing strangely out of place nursery rhymes, or having freakish experiences stemming from eating something.

Still, despite these new steps taken, YouTube Kids still places the onus on users/parents. A great many videos of this sort had previously been barred from YouTube Kids simply by way of their inappropriate content, but this expansion of the rules to include any inappropriate usage of family-friendly and iconic characters should help to rein in the trend further.

Such content will now be age-restricted on the main YouTube app once reviewed and flagged on YouTube Kids. "Our systems work hard to filter out more mature content from the app".

In tandem with YouTube's policy-review team, YouTube Kids relies in part on parents to identify content that shouldn't be in front of children.

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Age-restricted videos can't be seen by users who aren't logged in, or by those who have entered their age as below 18 on both the site and the app.

YouTube says videos that feature adult themes, including graphic violence, will be age restricted to avoid children accidentally viewing them. All age-gated content is also automatically exempt from advertising.

This new age-restriction policy should prevent that from happening by stopping inappropriate content from ever making it to YouTube Kids. The app also lets parents block access to individual videos, disable search, and set usage time limits. If something slips through the net, it can again be flagged and reviewed by a specialist YouTube Kids team of moderators.

In today's policy announcement, YouTube is acknowledging the problem, and promising to police it better. (We won't even link to them because ugh, why give them more views.) Think Spider-Man squeezing large water balloons until they explode in slow motion while he sits in an empty bathtub (seen by an Australian dad and his 3-year-old) or Peppa Pig parodies that have her getting tortured at the dentist or drinking bleach. Maybe watch YouTube with your kids or have what they're watching in plain sight (say through a TV in the living room).

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