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YouTube releases a new video app just for kids
Worried about your child finding adult content on YouTube? Google's video service is set to announce YouTube Kids, which will feature videos aimed for families. - photo by Herb Scribner
Earlier today, popular video site YouTube unveiled a new app called YouTube Kids, a family-friendly version of YouTube made just for children. It will be available starting today on Google Play and in the Android app store.

"Families worldwide are watching millions of videos on YouTube," a YouTube press release said. "And lately, those of us at YouTube have been working on a new way for our kids and yours to discover and explore videos on every topic in, well, the universe."

The app will feature original videos from current YouTube content creators that cater to children, such as Dreamworks TV, Jim Henson Family TV and the Mother Goose Club, the press release said. National Geographic Kids will also produce episodes of Reading Rainbow and the Thomas the Tank Engine series for YouTube Kids.

The app will feature a bright design with large icons to help children easily choose their content, according to YouTube's press release. The app will also include a voice search function.

"At a time when a child's access to media can be overwhelming and filled with empty calories, I'm excited that YouTube Kids is making this commitment to give families a safe environment to spark curiosity while still entertaining," Reading Rainbow's LeVar Burton told PC Magazine.

YouTube's press release said the app comes with parental controls, including a built-in timer to limit how long children use the app, sound settings to keep the background noise to a minimum, and a new search filter that keeps children from searching for mature content.

This is wonderful news for parents who are concerned about online content that is harmful to children, Parent Television Council president Tim Winter said in an email. It is also a wise business move for Google to address the needs of an extremely underserved market. With the Wild West nature of video entertainment on the Internet, this new Kids App is an important step towards protecting children from offensive or indecent content.

This has been YouTubes plan since March of last year, according to insiders who spoke to The Information. But YouTube isnt the only video service making itself friendlier for children. As I wrote about earlier in February, Vine, the video smartphone app, launched Vine Kids earlier this month, which comes pre-loaded with child-friendly content like silly sounds and animations.

And this may prove to be a smart business strategy. Seventy-five percent of children ages 0 to 8 own a smartphone device, and 72 percent of them have used that smart device to play games, watch videos or use an app, according to Zero to Eight, a 2013 study from Common Sense Media.

The Common Sense Media study also said that 38 percent of children use mobile media for educational purposes, even though television continues to be the main source of educational content.