Review by Sandy Wisneski, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2019
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YouTube Kids

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Kid-targeted videos are best with adult guidance

Subjects & skills
Subjects
  • English Language Arts
  • Math
  • Science

Skills
  • Character & SEL
Grades This grade range is based on learning appropriateness and doesn't take into account privacy. It's determined by Common Sense Education, not the product's publisher.
Pre-K–3
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Pros: Catchy sounds and easy navigation make for an engrossing, endlessly engaging viewing experience.

Cons: Adults still need to moderate, because inappropriate videos or ads may slip through filters.

Bottom Line: With adult supervision and controls in place, this is a fun way for young kids to browse online videos.

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. 

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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.

Overall Rating

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?

As a tool for students to browse kid-centric videos, this platform is tops. Sound effects and intuitive icons are highlights of the user experience, making this a fun, engrossing way to access a world of video content.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?

Though learning content is only a subset of the offerings, kids can find positive and educational messages throughout that could easily transfer to school and real life.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?

The interface is very intuitive and easy to browse, with available guides and links to additional resources.


Common Sense Reviewer
Sandy Wisneski Classroom teacher

Teacher Reviews

(See all 4 reviews) (4 reviews) Write a review
Featured review by
Jill B. , Technology coordinator
Technology coordinator
Kid-centered videos that are great for education.
I'm not sure how secure it is. I can type in some inappropriate words and they wont show, however students can get off on the wrong video quite easily. One of the best features is the speech search. Kids who can't type what they are looking for can easily say it and search for it that way.
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