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So many kids love watching Youtube. Youtube is an app source that contains tons and tons of information and is a great place to discover new things, learn and get entertainment. A worldwide, trendy, online video website, with users watching 4 billion hours worth of video each month, and uploading 72 hours worth of video every minute. Since its creation in 2005, it has grown favored from amateur videos to a wide range of video content from video blogging, to cooking, to learning how to tie a shoe! Youtube has it all. However, Youtube is only available through technological devices with internet access. Because nearly all electronic devices are handheld, portable and have internet access, it is not rare to see a child with their parent’s smartphones, browsing Youtube videos while eating at a restaurant. As of last year, 2017, Youtube created a fun and family-friendly app named Youtube Kids, targeted for children that presents kid-appropriate and parent-approved TV shows. I will be evaluating the kid-friendly Youtube Kids app: its design, content, search, and parental controls.
Technology and internet access definitely has the potential to be a family’s helpful tools that children can utilize ― if you supervise and enable safety settings. But are parents carefully monitoring what their children are actually doing when they are handing them the tools? With its playful visuals, silly sound effects, and picture-based navigation, YouTube Kids is fun and friendly — and doesn’t look at all like its parent site. Even the app icon is very jolly: a handwritten colored in red box, with a white “play” button in the center; in opposed to, the original Youtube icon, that is 2-D. Once the app is up and running, a cute animated introduction is played. Meanwhile using the app, modish music is being played. (I ended up putting the volume down). On the center-top are 5 appealing symbols: a red heart , a red and white, striped popcorn bag, a light blue 8th note music note, a shining light bulb, and 3 arrow sign pointing at different directions.
Kids can check out channels and videos through the each category, in the order mentioned before: Recommended videos, Shows like Thomas and Friends, Sesame Street, Music from “The Wheels on the Bus” to the classical “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star”, Learning educational videos, and it also includes an explore section, where children can view the popular “unboxing” toys, slime making and Play-Doh videos. Kids can freely roam through a large menu of YouTube videos geared toward their age group by swiping left and right. The Youtube Kids app design was greatly geared to its audience: Kids. Looking into each category content, I started with the little happy red and white striped popcorn bag named Shows. Shows displays familiar shows and channels like PBS, Nick Jr., Disney Jr., Sesame Street, Peg + Cat, Pocoyo.
Music ranks next. Nursery rhymes, action-verb songs, and finger play. Next on the list is Learning. The cheerful 3-arrowed sign named Explore completes our list. Explore introduces art and yoga lessons, but mostly “unboxing” takes over. Turns out, kids love to see others “unbox” toys and play with them. Not only are they playing with toys, but also making slime, creating stuff out of Play-Doh, too. What these type of videos consist of a pair of pretty, fresh-manicured hands “unboxing” toys from the packaging, then playing with them. Based on each channel, these videos contain a story plot line between the toy figurines. Usually, the pair of hands and voices belonging to an adult. When “unboxing toys” is typed in the search box, about 100,500,000 results pop up.
The contents on this list are sectioned off and categorized, based on videos children are likely to watch. When dividing them into different chunks, kids are able to right away choose what category they would like to dig into. Children will always find a way to get what they want. Before they learn how to talk, parents figure out what their need is. A red magnifying glass icon is on the top right of the screen. A red magnifying glass icon will allow kids to search the YouTube Kids’ content for choicy items of interest, versus diving into the various categories. This feature will return more results than what’s available in the category sections. How to make this work, children can type or speak into the device. Depending on the age of the user, younger children typically cannot spelling or form a sentence.Kids are like sponges: Children absorb everything they hear and see around them.
Keep in mind, kids are also incredibly curious with imaginative minds. In my school-age classroom, I allow them to bring in their tablets whenever there is a non-student day at school. With my supervision, I have them sit in a position where I can see their screens, this allows me to look over to view if they are looking at appropriate things. In this group, I have students who know how to construct sentences, and others who do not. I am bewildered those who use this feature, click on the mic icon, and say “My Little Pony” and their results come out. I once had a student who had voice searched the lyrics to a rap song, not even the title of the song, and her results still came out. Of course, I did not allow her to view this content, but this happened under my supervision, I do not want to imagine what she views when not supervised.
Youtube Kids filters out the “grown-up stuff” and funnels out the “kid stuff” to this app. Youtube Kids allows parents to control the settings. Parents have the choice to disable the child to search for videos, show age-appropriate videos, and block any keyword videos parents do not want the child to see. Nonetheless, not-suitable-for-children videos are scurrying their way into the app. These videos are titled and the thumbnail picture are the exactly the same, as normal video would be, but once it is clicked on, perturbing content is streaming. People who upload these items, have figured out how to deceive Youtube algorithm. Disturbing videos are more common on the main YouTube channel, but they could pop up in the kid’s app, especially if you allow your kids to search. Parents are able to report and flag the video they are not pleased with.
Another feature that is available is the timer option. This feature lets parents limit kids’ screen time sessions by set up a timer to signal the child when their screen time is over. Not all children are viewing through Youtube Kids, referencing back to my school-age group, they are viewing through the main app of Youtube.Last year, I had a 10 year old student who started imitating a puppet Youtuber named “Jeffy” by talking and acting like him. I did not think anything of it but one day, I got curious and I looked him up. And yes, my student was acting exactly like him, except this puppet was virgous, saying and doing things that are inappropriate for anyone, I think. I had no idea about this Jeffy, till my student imitated him and I looked him up. His parent probably had no idea, because the next week he was wearing this Youtuber’s shirt. On the Youtube Kids app, I was bewildered to see that Jeffy pops-up. Not as its original channel, but young children performing the same behavior as the original.
As I live with a toddler, my nephew has the privilege to own a tablet with wifi. Before having his own tablet, he would ask for my sister’s smartphone and watch videos on the main Youtube app. This app did not filter any content that was not appropriate and suitable for his age. For instance, his mom would type in ‘spiderman’ and movie clips from Spiderman films, Spiderman cartoons, unboxing Spiderman toys, and these disturbing adult-led skits. I say disturbing because that is how I felt viewing them. These adults would dress up in popular children character costumes, like Hulk, Mickey Mouse, Spiderman, Elsa, Anna, and act out a plot. Certainly not the right videos to watch, they were full of mild violence, not representing any positive behavior and depicting story plot lines. He was watching these videos when he was about 1 and a half, I would scold my sister to not let him watch videos like these but she was negligent. He would get so upset: he was scream, cry and hit, when I would jokingly cover the screen. I am certain it was learned behavior on account of the skits. On his tablet, we installed and unquestionably these skits tend to emerge! These kind of videos will certainly come up in a child’s search result. Any child looking for a Disney’s film Frozen video will probably come across this one. The thumbnails on these videos show toys and animated pictures that can attract children into clicking it.
To conclude, I am all up for children utilizing technology. This generation is growing into a world revolving technology, so there is no avoidance towards it. It is now being used in classrooms: where nearly all children go to learn. All measured aside, when we hand over our children a gadget for leisure time, we usually expect to relax and let them click away. Too good to be true, children will be exposed to positive and negative content. Youtube Kids and like other apps, are made for kids. So that means it should be safe, right? Wrong, it still contains the “bad stuff”, and can appear if parents allow it to. This app is admirable, because it meets parents and children’s expectations like its design, the content it streams, the search feature and the parental controls. I definitely consider this app to parents and their children; children can learn something from view videos but parents should not expect a gadget to be an “electronic babysitter” then go making negative reviews on an app.
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