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Our responsibility approach to protecting kids and families on YouTube

  • By James Beser
  • Director of Product Management, Kids and Family
  • Oct.25.2021
An overview of the approach we take in protecting kids and families on YouTube

When I tell people that I work at YouTube, I often hear stories about how their families come to YouTube to learn something new, do yoga, draw and cook together. As kids and teens spend more time online, it’s important to protect their experience while encouraging exploration. Responsibility is our number one priority at YouTube, and nothing is more important than protecting kids.

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For our younger users, we’ve built a dedicated kids destination, the YouTube Kids app. We’ve invested heavily over the years to make YouTube Kids a safer, family-friendly place for kids to explore their imagination and curiosity. We have a higher bar for which videos can be a part of the app and also empower parents to control what content their child can and cannot see.

But we also give parents options on the main YouTube experience, including the ability to create a supervised account for their tween or watch together with their kids. Today, we wanted to give you an overview of the approach we take in protecting kids and families on YouTube.

This work builds on the framework we use across YouTube to live up to our responsibility as an open platform while protecting the YouTube community. Our principles are organized around the four “Rs”: remove harmful content, raise authoritative voices, reduce borderline content, and reward trusted creators. We apply these pillars across a range of content, from elections to misinformation, and they also ground our efforts to protect kids and families. This work complements our existing safety and digital wellbeing options and privacy and data practices for children’s content. Here’s how:

Remove

We have clear policies that prohibit content that exploits or endangers minors on YouTube and have committed significant time and resources toward removing violative content as quickly as possible. We also regularly review these policies and engage with external experts to ensure they are current. For example, we’ve updated our policy to cover content meant to target young minors and families that contains sexual themes, violence, obscenity, or other mature themes. In Q2 of 2021 alone, we removed over 1.8 million videos for violations of our child safety policies.

YouTube Kids is a separate app that is a filtered version of YouTube, has specific content policies and a much smaller set of channels and videos available. Over the years, we’ve raised the bar for which channels and videos can be a part of YouTube Kids, drastically reducing the number of channels on the app. For example, we’ve recently updated our policies to remove overly commercial content from YouTube Kids, such as videos that only focus on product packaging or directly encourage children to spend money.

Raise & Reduce

Over the last few years, we’ve been working to implement products and policies that help us connect families with high-quality content on YouTube and YouTube Kids. In collaboration with child development specialists, we established a set of quality principles to help guide our kids and family creator ecosystem. Age-appropriate, enriching, and engaging content can come in different formats, genres and cover a range of topics. They include videos that inspire curiosity and imagination, celebrate diverse perspectives and encourage kids to uncover their own interests and passions.

These principles help determine inclusion in YouTube Kids and how recommendations work in the main YouTube experience. On YouTube Kids, we identify and include videos and channels that are age-appropriate and adhere to the quality principles.

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We also use these principles to determine which high-quality content we raise up in our recommendations on YouTube. This means that when you’re watching “made for kids” content on YouTube, we aim to recommend videos that are age-appropriate, educational, and inspire creativity and imagination. For example, if you were watching SciShow Kids’ How do Rockets Fly, we could recommend content like Art for Kids Hub’s How to Draw a Rocket, Super Sema’s How To Make A DIY CD Hovercraft or GoldieBlox's STEM Curiosity Camp.

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At the same time, we use these principles to reduce kids content that is low-quality (but doesn’t violate our Community Guidelines) in our recommendations on YouTube, and remove channels from YouTube Kids. Examples of this content include videos that are heavily commercial or promotional, encourage negative behaviors or attitudes, and more. Our work here is ongoing and we regularly reevaluate and update these principles. You can read more here.

Reward

There is a vibrant community of kids and family content creators that produce high-quality content. And we want to make sure that we’re rewarding these creators and helping them grow and succeed on YouTube.

We set a higher bar for what channels can make money on YouTube. In addition to our Community Guidelines, creators also need to follow our monetization policies to join the YouTube Partner Program. Every channel applying to YPP undergoes review by a trained rater to make sure it meets our policies and we continually keep these guidelines current. We also regularly review and remove channels that don’t comply with our policies.

Earlier this month, we shared additional monetization policies—which align with the quality principles discussed above—for channels that primarily create kids and family content on YouTube. Going forward, these principles will have not only an impact on recommendations and inclusion in YouTube Kids, but also on monetization.

Channels that primarily target young audiences or are classified as “made for kids” will need to deliver high-quality content and comply with kids-specific monetization policies. For example, channels that have predominantly low-quality kids content, such as “Heavily commercial or promotional” or “Encouraging negative behaviors or attitudes”, may be suspended from YPP. And if an individual video violates these quality principles, it may see limited or no ads.

We have reached out to potentially impacted creators in order to support them before these changes take effect starting next month. Our ultimate goal is to foster a safe and enriching environment for families while rewarding trusted creators who are making high-quality kids and family content.

We are proud of the incredible creators who are delivering enriching and diverse content for people across the globe. We’re committed to helping them succeed, while providing kids and families with a safer and enriching experience. Our work here is ongoing, and we appreciate the partnership of parents, creators and experts in this journey.