Acknowledging its portal for kids still has some growing up to do, YouTube announced that it's preparing to give parents more control over YouTube Kids and new ways to display the app's content.
YouTube Kids has been downloaded more than 8 million times since its launch back in February, Google announced last Thursday. The portal for children has maintained a rating of over four stars on Google Play and managed to stay in the top five ranks for kid-friendly apps in the app store.
"Not bad for a seven-month old," says Google's YouTube team. "When we announced the app, we said YouTube Kids was our first step in reimagining YouTube for families. And we're always looking for ways to make it even better."
To help parents exercise more control over what their children see on YouTube Kids, Google is offering an in-app tutorial that will brief parents on all of the app's features. During the tutorial, the app will prompt parents to choose between allowing the app's search feature or turning it off.
YouTube will also let parents customize their YouTube Kids password.
"We've also heard some parents prefer a personal passcode, rather than a spelled-out code, so we've added this option to access parental controls," says YouTube.
YouTube also added more big-screen support for YouTube Kids that will allow the app to stream content to Chromecast, Apple TV, game consoles and smart TVs. The app is also offering more original content for kids and guest-curated playlists, such as National Geographic Kids and the upcoming Amy Poehler's Smart Girls.
Not even in its terrible twos, YouTube for Kids has already been the subject of a complaint filed with the Federal Trade Commission. The Campaign for Commercial-Free Childhood and the Center for Digital Democracy complained that the app allows video that have adult themes, including references to drug abuse and pedophilia.
"Google promised parents that YouTube Kids would deliver appropriate content for children, but it has failed to fulfill its promise," said Aaron Mackey, an attorney who represents the two groups.
Whether those allegations are true or not, Google is at least trying to make YouTube Kids as friendly a place as billed. The changes Google is promising should arrive in the "next few weeks."
"We always try to make the videos available in the app family-friendly, but no system is perfect," says YouTube. "So if you ever find a video you're concerned about, please flag it. This helps make YouTube Kids better for everyone."