Although Google has always insisted that the regular version of YouTube is not for children, it’s never offered a web version of the separate YouTube Kids app, which restricts content based on age and disables certain features such as commenting. That’s going to change this week, as Google has quietly revealed plans for a YouTube Kids website. YouTube is also tweaking the age groups for the Kids app, with different content for “Preschool” (ages 4 and under), “Younger” (for ages 5 to 7), and “Older” (for ages 8 to 12) kids. Previously, YouTube Kids had only two screening levels: 8 and under, and 9 to 12.
Strangely, Google seems to be downplaying the news, announcing it via a forum post (where it was spotted by Android Police) instead of its official blog. But as TechCrunch points out, the website launch could be tied to a rumored settlement with the Federal Trade Commission, which was investigating whether YouTube violated children’s privacy laws by tracking and targeting kids with ads. Because the regular YouTube site allows for such tracking—even for content that clearly appeals to children—any kids who used the site might have been subject to tracking. It’s possible that in the future YouTube will add an age gate to its site and redirect children to YouTube Kids instead.
Update: The YouTube Kids website is now live at youtubekids.com.