A US House of Representatives Oversight Subcommittee has raised concerns in a letter to YouTube about the quality of content and ads on its YouTube Kids platform.
Youtube Kids has been criticized by a group of US lawmakers who have described him as “a wasteland of insipid and consumerist content.” Although the The platform was originally introduced with the aim of entertaining and protecting child users, it has faced previous criticism about the quality of the content and the use of ads. This most recent criticism was raised in a letter from the US House of Representatives Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy Oversight.
YouTube Kids was first launched as a separate YouTube app in 2015 as a platform that would be safe for children to sail. The app is designed to have options to set parental controls based on age and filter content based on child-friendly standards. However, YouTube Kids has been forced to conduct revisions to its app for the past two years, including removing targeted ads based on data collected from child users.
Now, the Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy has taken action through a letter to the CEO of YouTube on issues YouTube Kids presents for young audiences, sent on April 6, 2021. The letter addresses various quality control and wellness issues with the app, as well as requests documents and information to address the issues. Many arguments are made against the current operation of YouTube Kids that are very fair.
The letter notes that YouTube does not take adequate measures to regulate the content displayed in the Kids app, as any creator can simply mark their video as made for children to reach these audiences, while the only other filtering tool of YouTube is through artificial intelligence. This makes it very difficult to ensure that all YouTube Kids video content is truly made for children. Furthermore, only about 4 percent of the videos on the Kids app are claimed to be educational, while nearly half feature or promote products for purchase. TReference was made to the American Academy of Pediatrics to point out that there are many physical and mental harms in showing these consumer-based ads and videos to viewers under the age of 7 and to ask YouTube to ban all advertising directed at this age group. . Finally, the letter admonishes the app to automatically play new videos when one is done without an option to disable the setting, doing nothing to help moderate children’s screen time.
What does this mean in the argument of social networks for children?
The whole situation with YouTube reiterates many facts that arise when questioning whether social media should be available or directed at children. The Subcommittee raises just concerns about how the YouTube Kids app encourages more consumption and therefore more time online, somewhat Parents and professionals have worried for years. Social media platforms created for children simply increase the time they spend on screens, which especially for younger audiences can harm physical and mental health.
In addition to this, safety is always a concern. There is always the risk that young children using social media will encounter content that is not appropriate or suitable for children. It has also been noted above that creating platforms for children can provide a place for malicious people to address themselves and the question was raised as to whether the use of social media should be normalized at such a young age. With some serious but fair questions to YouTube, the argument against social media for kids is certainly getting stronger.
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