YouTube has been under some fire lately for various commercials aimed at children.
YouTube’s new Kids app was supposed to make the channel more searchable and user-friendly for kids, but what has happened is almost the exact opposite. Here’s why parents around the world aren’t letting kids use the new app.
An Advertising Issue
The new YouTube Kids app includes lots of kid-friendly content, but it also includes advertisements aimed at kids that showcase junk foods. Two major child activist groups (the Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy) have both lodged complaints against YouTube stating that a number of children’s channels are filled with commercials for products like Coca-Cola.
YouTube’s new Kid channel is supposed to be free from ads that include junk foods, but that’s not what has been happening with the channel lately. In addition to products like Coke, the company has not filtered out other junk food commercials that have no place lodged amidst kid content, the two activist groups say.
A Broken Promise
YouTube had previously promised not to market any kind of junk food product towards children, but this isn’t what has been happening. In its defense, YouTube representatives have told press that the company only allows commercials that are family friendly.
The company argues that the junk food commercials present include family content, so they aren’t targeted to kids directly. This defense doesn’t fly with the two advocacy groups that want YouTube to have a stronger hand when filtering commercial content.
YouTube also claims that the company does not allow paid commercials that include junk food products, but that some videos might contain spots for certain junk foods (like Oreo and Coke). Either way, advocacy groups argue that the new channel for kids should not include anything junk food related, and that YouTube has gone against its promise to avoid advertising to kids unnecessarily.
Asking for Removal
The two groups mentioned above are asking courts to weigh in on the matter, and to make YouTube get rid of any commercials that adamantly sell junk food to children. So far, a decision has not been made, and YouTube stands behind its claim that the company is not selling junk food to children directly. As of the time of this writing, no commercials or video spots have been pulled from the YouTube Kid channel lineup.
If you do let your kids use the new Kid channel app, be aware that some of the video content might include junk food advertisements or videos. Various child protection groups are asking parents to be aware of what kids are watching via the channels. While the content is more kid-centered, it doesn’t look like YouTube has made good on its promise to avoid selling directly to children watching YouTube content.
YouTube has also stated that it is a parent’s responsibility to watch what children are viewing through the channel, and that it is not the company’s directly responsibility.