YouTube announces new features for kids app

YouTube unveiled new features for its kids app Thursday, a move that underscores the video platform’s efforts to make the app more family-friendly.

“When we announced the app, we said YouTube Kids was our first step in reimagining YouTube for families,” the Google-owned video platform said in a blog post. “And we’re always looking for ways to make it even better. So today we’re sharing some new ways we’re helping parents and kids enjoy the family content they love.”

Users will now be able to watch content from the app on a TV screen using Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles or a smartTV. They can also explore videos on guest-curated playlists from National Geographic Kids, Kid President and others.

YouTube is also making sure parents can better navigate the app by explaining “upfront how our systems choose and recommend content and how to flag videos.”

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They can then “make a choice about how broadly you want your child to explore -- turn search on to access millions of family-friendly videos, or turn search off to restrict your child’s experience to a more limited set.”

Parents can also now customize their passcodes.

“Many of these updates are a result of the great feedback” from users, YouTube said.

The new features come just a couple of months after a string of children’s advocacy groups filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission asking it to investigate whether the app exposes young audiences to an unwanted barrage of commercials.

YouTube said its app allows parents to limit how much time their kids spend on it and to monitor what they watch. The company also screens all advertising that appears on the app.

Despite initial backlash, the app has become a hit. It has been downloaded more than 8 million times since it rolled out in February. It has also consistently ranked in the top five kids apps in the App Store.

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