In 2005, YouTube revolutionized online video, creating an endless ocean of content for bored viewers around the world. Parents could find old children’s shows for their kids, educational clips, and funny home videos to entertain their children with ease. The only problem is all that content was housed on the same site the popularized pimple popping videos. YouTube is seldom a kid friendly place.
What is YouTube Kids?
In 2015, YouTube solved this problem with the launch of YouTube Kids, a special mobile app for Android and iOS that offers a limited version of the site designed specifically for kids. This simple and free app allows kids to watch videos, channels, and playlists without parents needing to worry they’ll accidentally stumble upon inappropriate content.
YouTube Kids interface is designed with kids in mind, offering big buttons, easy scrolling, and videos that instantly go fullscreen without having to navigate a menu. Parents who want to watch along with their kids can move the action to the big screen using a Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles, or certain smart TVs.
Can I control what my kids see?
Thanks to a set of powerful parental controls, you can select how long your child can watch videos on the app each day, restrict specific content, and otherwise tailor the experience to your family’s needs. If you have a particularly precocious child, you can even turn off the ability to search, leaving your progeny with pre-approved channels or playlists.
Are there any downsides?
There is one downside to YouTube Kids, however: ads. YouTube Kids is a free service, which means it has to pay for itself somehow. This is done via commercial content, but given the nature of the app, it also means you won’t know what ads your kids are watching. If you try to keep them from certain toys, brands, or messages, this may be an issue for you.
However, you can turn off ads with a YouTube Red subscription. How much this content bothers you is up to you and your family.
6 YouTube Kids channels to check out
Searching for and find channels for your kids can be a little bit difficult if you don’t know what to search for. There isn’t exactly a master channel list available, you need to search to find each channel’s homepage. Don’t fret however if you’re planning a big trip. We’ve got a couple recommendations that are sure to please every member of your family.
1) Cartoon Network
When it comes to Cartoon Network, YouTube kids puts the world in your hands. There are a number of Cartoon Network channels from around the world to browse through, each one with slightly different material. The main constant is a steady stream of family-friendly cartoon mayhem for your viewing enjoyment. From Chowder to We Bare Bears, Cartoon Network has it all.
TED talks aren’t without controversy, but the TED-ED line of videos are a wonderful series of educational short films that answer complicated questions with beautiful animation. Whether your child is learning about the things that float over your eyes sometimes or how to solve complex riddles, TED-Ed is a godsend for any parent of a smart kid who always asks “why?”
Do you watch MasterChef Junior, wistfully looking over at your offspring and wishing they could make you dinner? SimpleCooking helps make that a reality. Each your children the basics of cooking with the fun and useful recipes. Just make sure you’re in the kitchen when they try them out.
4) Butterfly Spanish
Give your child a head start on school with Butterfly Spanish. These free Spanish lessons cover the basics of grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary, and culture with colorful, often humorous, videos. By focusing beyond simply teaching language, Butterfly Spanish creates a space that’s about discovery and education. This helps keep kids from thinking their sitting in on a lesson instead of watching a fun video. Who knows, maybe you’ll pick up a few words too.
Sesame Street may have moved to HBO, but it still lives in the hearts, minds, and YouTube channels of kids everywhere. Featuring full clips from the show alongside educational lessons, Sesame Street on YouTube offers up the same great content you’ve come to expect from the show, only this time it’s searchable on car rides.
6) Houston Zoo
Do you kids love animals? The Houston Zoo has them covered. With a focus on baby animals and rescues, Houston Zoo’s channel is a cuddly wonderland of educational clips that’ll make you say “aww.” When you’re done with the Houston Zoo, check out the other great zoo channels on the YouTube Kids, including the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Copenhagen Zoo, and Zoo Atlanta.
You can download YouTube Kids for free right now on the iTunes and Google Play stores.
John-Michael Bond is a tech reporter and culture writer for Daily Dot. A longtime cord-cutter and early adopter, he's an expert on streaming services (Hulu with Live TV), devices (Roku, Amazon Fire), and anime. A former staff writer for TUAW, he's knowledgeable on all things Apple and Android. You can also also find him regularly performing standup comedy in Los Angeles.