The YouTube Kids app was launched on Monday (Feb 23), to the delight of parents who have been on their toes, worrying about the content their toddlers have been exposed to on their mobile devices.
Good start, but…
Reviews for the app have generally been positive, and the only gripe from parents has been the password that is required to unlock the app. Because once toddlers learn to read, breaking the auto-lock would be as easy as one, two, three - literally.
Other than that, adults have generally been quick to give YouTube Kids the thumbs up. It's just a pity that three-year-olds don't know how to appreciate the thought that went into the app's design.
The interface is child-friendly, and by child, I'm talking pre-schoolers. The app uses icons to represent Shows, Music, Learning, and Explore, instead of the more complicated sub-categories that the regular YouTube app has such as Home, Browse, and Account - ones that are tailored to suit ages 13 and above.
Parents can even set a timer for how long the app can function per day, and remove the search function in case their children wander off into less-than-desirable corners of YouTube Kids (if there are even any).
According to the YouTube Official Blog, with "larger images, bold icons and more, [YouTube Kids is] fast and simple for little thumbs to navigate". But the question is, what about bigger, wrinklier thumbs?
YouTube Kids for grandparents?
The Ericsson Consumer Insight Summary Report 2013 found that out of the adults surveyed (who were above 60 years of age), 41 per cent streamed on-demand/time-shifted TV and video content from sites such as YouTube - and they did so more than once a week.
This is where YouTube Kids comes in: its big and bold images, as well as the uncluttered interface of the app, might actually work for the elderly who are unfamiliar with new media. The modified app is fuss-free and would display their favourite videos on the homepage in a manner that's intuitive and easy to operate.
I could definitely see my grandmother using YouTube Kids: instead of a Sesame Street playlist, though, she could have a line up of the Golden Age Talentime. She could browse videos via the app's voice detection search function without having to go through the trouble of typing, and be able to see the thumbnails on the home screen without squinting through her glasses.
Gone will be the days when she finds something on YouTube that could offend her: think Miley Cyrus in her "Wrecking Ball" music video.
It's a good move on YouTube's part to take a step towards catering its services to specific user groups, as seen from the pat on the back given to YouTube Kids. Now, perhaps going the extra mile for our silver-haired folks, and having an app catered to them will bring YouTube more laurels.
An ageing population, like that in Singapore, would definitely see the value of a YouTube Oldies app. Rather than overlook the media habits of our Baby Boomers, perhaps digital companies should consider streamlining their content and services for them instead, in preparation for the next generation of retirees.
Until then, YouTube Kids might be a fun activity between the old and very young, should the latter choose to share.