Children have emerged as one of the most lucrative demographics for Youtube — but there’s a catch, the social network is not for kids.
Youtube is having kid issues, and it’s not because kids are destroying or replacing the social network as we all know it, they’ve actually become its best audience, it’s just Youtube is not for kids—not even in its specifically designed platform for kids, however, they’ve quickly become one of the the apps’ best audience.
This in an app with over 300 hours of videos uploaded every minute, with 1.9 billion monthly visitors every month; that’s half the internet watching a billion hours of video. Youtube has local versions in 91 different countries, reaching 95% of the internet worldwide, finding in the United States, India, Japan, Russia and China its largest audience percentage. It currently ranks the 2nd most-visited website in existence after Facebook. When it comes to reach, Digiday reported that Youtube engaged with 81.2% of Internet users in the U.S. Younger visitors tend to spend more time on the site. In March of 2019, YouTube drew 31.8 million users aged 18 to 24 (98.3% of U.S. Internet users in that age bracket) who spent an average of 10 hours, 15 minutes on the site.
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It’s hard to believe a behemoth so strong could have kid issues, but they do, mainly because there is little to no control regarding what kids see on the social platform.
For critics, YouTube’s approach is more about catching up to their new digital behavior than that of finding a new group target. YouTube is reacting to the fact that tens of millions of children are already watching, and although it’s necessary to avoid children from getting access to inappropriate videos, ads, and toxic comments, it comes when the problem has very much manifested.
Since 2017, the company has worked on cracking down inappropriate videos, but despite its new policy preventing creepy videos from showing up, which launched in 2015, did not necessarily prevent kids from seeing it on YouTube’s website or the regular YouTube app more than prevent creators from getting ad revenue if bad content was displayed.
The YouTube Kids app includes an extra layer of filters meant to ensure they’re family friendly, but even YouTube now admits that the system doesn’t work 100 percent of the time.
The Internet continues to be the wild west, we have to be well aware of it, and while videos for children account for 12 of the 20 most-viewed YouTube videos during April of this year, it’s vital to spark the debate on how we adapt our everyday lives, relationships, and family education to the digital demand.
YouTube doesn’t have to be something a child does alone: co-viewing can be a fun activity for them to share with their parent. And thirdly: sometimes parents just need to get stuff done. YouTube, like television, can buy the short bursts of time that a parent or carer needs to keep things running. But also like television, it needs boundaries.
If the Internet is a galaxy of strange worlds, then YouTube is one of the biggest by population, popularity, and dangers.