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YouTube Kids offers a range of educational videos for the pre-K and early elementary school-age set. Videos can be used as supplemental resources to introduce new concepts or for motivation when beginning a new unit. Brain-break videos are a great addition throughout the day and get students moving and ready to continue learning. One example, "The Mother Goose Club," introduces students to phonics and letters with a fun and engaging approach. Connect students to books by bringing guest readers into your classroom with video read-alouds. YouTube Kids narrows the selection, saving time searching for the right video. Adjust the settings to a specific age group (preschool, younger, or older) to meet your classroom needs.Continue reading Show less
YouTube Kids is a kid-friendly portal (through the web and an app) to YouTube that features curated TV shows, music, and educational videos. Since there are periodic updates, the channels and videos are always changing. While the bulk of the content that most kids will encounter isn't problematic, it's still important that educators monitor viewing habits and make adjustments as needed. The app has drawn controversy in the past for including some clearly inappropriate videos and ads (with nudity, alcohol, and profanity). YouTube's curation process isn't perfect (details of how titles are curated are slim; publicly, Google says it's "a mix of automated analysis and user input"), so adult oversight is key.
Kids navigate by swiping left and right or by browsing through the menus that appear across the top of the screen. "Shows" features clips and full episodes of popular children's programming; "Music" offers a wide range of songs; "Learning" includes access to education-minded kids' shows; and "Explore" offers access to a range of content created by users and by vendors who market to children. Kids can also access popular playlists from channels such as National Geographic Kids and Sid the Science Kid. Once kids watch a few videos, a Recommended menu appears at the top, where kids can view more clips and shows related to those they've previously viewed.
Access to the parent/educator section requires completing a simple math computation, but you can also create your own custom passcode. Settings options allow parents and educators to customize kids' experience by toggling sounds on and off, disabling searches, and clearing watch histories. Upon first login, adults can view a tutorial that helps them choose content for kids. There's also a timer function, which can set a limit (between one and 120 minutes) on kid's viewing time, and a colored progress bar at the top of the screen displays how much time remains. After the time has elapsed, a "Time's Up!" animation appears and locks kids out of further viewing. Adults must enter a code for access to resume.
The YouTube Kids interface feels designed for young kids, and the majority of featured content is aimed at that group. Generally, the content is appropriate, but educators still need to monitor the usage since the filters aren't foolproof. Some of the content will have commercialism embedded within, and ads may still pop up during video viewing.
The layout is whimsical and fun, with extra-big buttons making it easy for kids to play and pause. Simple icons help kids easily understand broad categories for the videos they'll find. Parental control features are valuable, but once kids get older, it would be beneficial for educators to create a personal password to keep them from gaining access. Adults can disable search, and the timer function lets adults limit and control kids' access. The Recommended videos menu is a great feature: After only a few video views, kids get a custom list of related videos that improves as kids view more content. There's a vast selection of videos available that are both entertaining and educational. The key is to monitor what content's being viewed and to use this experience to encourage positive media literacy.