Google announced a series of updates to our policies, and products to improve the digital wellbeing for users under 18.
Over the weekend, our kids found that the search function on YouTube Kids was disabled, and as we were troubleshooting it, we found a bunch of new options that were made available on the setting page. This is part of Google's updates to give kids a safer experience online - this series of updates is not limited to YouTube Kids but also on Google Search and YouTube.
*If anyone else needs to enable search, you can go over to the setting page on YouTube Kids, and enable it.
Here are some of the changes you can expect.
SafeSearch On Default
SafeSearch helps to filter out explicit results when enabled and is already on by default for all signed-in users under 13 who have accounts managed by Google's Family Link (note that Google's T&Cs actually states that children under 13 cannot setup account and thus, Family Link is a tool developed by Google for families to manage the account of younger kids).
For teens between 13 to 18, SafeSearch will be turned on and will be the default setting for teens setting up new accounts.
Location History To Be Off
Location History is turned off by default for all accounts, and children with supervised accounts don’t have the option of turning Location History on. Google will be expanding this so that teens (between 13 to 18 yrs) will not have the option to turn on Location History.
YouTube Privacy Settings
As more kids use YouTube to express themselves, Google will be gradually adjusting the default upload setting to the most private option available for users ages 13-17 on YouTube. Private Uploads can only be seen by the user and whomever they choose - this allows the younger users to make informed decisions about their online footprint and digital privacy, including encouraging them to make an intentional choice if they’d like to make their content public.
*Users may still change the default upload visibility setting and they will get reminders indicating who can see their video.
Restricting Use On YouTube
Take a break and bedtime reminders will be turned on by default for all users ages 13-17 on YouTube. Autoplay will be turned off by default for these users too. If a teen decides these aren’t the right digital well-being features for them, they can choose to change their default settings.
YouTube Kids Settings
Google will be adding an autoplay option on YouTube Kids and the option for autoplay will be turned off by default in the app. Additional parental controls will be launched in the YouTube Kids app, including the ability for a parent to choose a “locked” default autoplay setting.
Google will also be removing overly commercial content from YouTube Kids, such as a video that only focuses on product packaging or directly encourages children to spend money.