These days it's inevitable that children are going to be spending some of their time watching videos on tablets or smartphones. I'm of the opinion that, like most things, screen time is fine for toddlers and young children as long as it is in moderation and balanced with plenty of other activities and interaction.
Many young children enjoy watching videos on YouTube and mine are no different, but it's always been a bit of a worry to me that although you might set them off watching a suitable child-friendly video there's no knowing where they might end up if they keep clicking through to recommended videos. It can also be difficult for children that aren't yet able to read very well to find the content that appeals to them the most.
So the new YouTube Kids app is a brilliant way of solving these problems. The front screen curates content which is suitable for young children. The homescreen is divided into four categories - Shows, Music, Learning and Explore - including content from many children's favourites like Postman Pat, Thomas and Friends and Wallace and Gromit. The app will also select new, suitable content, and it's designed in a way that makes it easy for little ones to find what they are after. There's even a Nostalgia section featuring classics like Paddington and the Care Bears as well as classic cartoons which you can enjoy along with your child!
The search function can be used by you or the child to find other family friendly videos, or you can disable the search function entirely if you want to restrict what your toddler sees to a more limited set. There are also plenty of other parental controls in place, for example you can set a timer which displays a countdown bar at the top of the screen. When the time is up the little face on the app goes to sleep! The app is a signed-out experience with no ties to any account, and it isn't possible to upload, share or like videos.
The app is completely free to download to your tablet and is currently available in Google Play and the App Store. You can use the YouTube Kids app on a smartphone or tablet with iOS 7 or above or Android 4.1 or above. You can also watch YouTube Kids on your television using Chromecast, Apple TV, games consoles or a smartTV.
You can find out more information about YouTube Kids in this blog post from the YouTube UK Blog. If you have young children that enjoy spending time using a smartphone or tablet I'd definitely recommend giving it a go. As well as the peace of mind that you'll having knowing that the content they are watching is suitable for them, it's so easy for them to use to find videos that they will enjoy watching, as well as introducing them to some new favourites!