YouTube is big with The Kids. Regular Music Ally readers will know all about this: we’ve regularly covered research showing that for children, YouTube is increasingly their go-to destination for music and general entertainment.
For example, recent research from Ofcom in the UK found that 2.2m British children were watching YouTube videos in 2013 for an average of just over four hours a month, with 14% of 8-11 year-olds and 36% of 12-15 year-olds watching music videos on it at least once a week.
Separate research by children’s marketing firm SuperAwesome found that 20% of British 9-12 year-olds subscribe to 50 or more YouTube channels.
YouTube and its parent company Google are clearly aware of the trend, and are seemingly set to act on it. USA Today reports that Google is planning to launch “specific versions of its most popular products for those 12 and younger”, including YouTube, search and Chrome.
“The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there’s a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children,” said VP of engineering Pavni Diwanji. “We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids’ use of our products.”
This comes after YouTube recruited a dedicated head of family entertainment this year, with first reports of a child-friendly version emerging in March.
There will be plenty of sceptics about Google and YouTube’s motivations here, and possible regulatory interest to ensure that the company is adhering to data collection laws about children.
But at the same time, it’s a sensible and necessary step, reacting to the undeniable popularity of YouTube for children and making it easier to, for example, ensure they don’t see inappropriate ads or videos.
The UK’s trial of age-ratings for music videos springs to mind here: how can you make sure someone under 12 can’t watch a 12-rated video unless you know their age, rather than them browsing through a parent’s account?
Yet a child-friendly YouTube will also be an opportunity for music companies, from labels with pop acts through to preschool nursery-rhyme channels like Little Baby Bum, which with 189.3m views in October was the fifth most popular YouTube channel in the world – more popular than any individual music artist.