A handful of prominent child advocacy groups plan to work together today in asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google's YouTube Kids app, with the groups claiming that the popular video streaming service is deceptively targeting kids with advertisements on the tablet and smartphone application (via San Jose Mercury News).

The root of the complaint stems from restrictions placed on children's entertainment dating back to the 1970's, which bans hosts of a kids' television series from attempting to sell products during a show, amongst other restrictions. The central crux of that established law, now coming back into play with the coalition's defense against Google, is that young kids haven't yet developed the reasoning behind resisting such advertisements, or even understand that they're being targeted in the first place.

YouTube Kids iPad

The complaint to be filed Tuesday asks the FTC to investigate several features of YouTube Kids:

Branded channels: "McDonald's has its own channel on YouTube Kids ... (presenting) promotional videos styled as news reports on topics such as, 'What are McDonald's McNuggets made of?' ... (Branded channels) take advantage of children because they do not understand that the entire channel is actually advertising."

Lack of separation between shows and ads: "Selecting My Little Pony brings up four options. Two of the four options are labeled 'TV Commercial.' The other two are identified as 'TV Clip' but are actually promotions for the My Little Pony program.' "

The groups rallying against the YouTube Kids app allege Google's new kid-friendly application blurs the line between funny, kid-centric videos and lengthy product promotions. Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy, one of the groups campaigning for more regulation on the YouTube Kids app, sees this as just the first step in a long line of kids' entertainment regulation.

"This is the opening shot in a new battle with Google, Nickelodeon, Amazon, Netflix, Cartoon Network and others that are trying to cash in on this generation of young children," said Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "It's a battle for the hearts and minds and pocketbooks of America's kids in the digital age."

"Google simply ignored the basics," Chester said. "They deliberately ignored the well-documented research on children's developmental limitations when it comes to advertising and programming."

Chester also noted that the groups don't just want a more serious look into advertisements, but anything resembling such in the app as a whole, namely the perennially popular "unboxing videos" found on the service. "We want Google to pull all of its unboxing videos from the app," Chester said. "There's no disclosure of who actually owns those channels. They're an ad, in essence, for toys."


A few have stepped forward in speaking out in Google's favor, namely Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy lawyer, who pointed out that "something's got to pay" for the free app and said that she doesn't "worry about ads as long as they're not ads for Viagra and Victoria's Secret and things like that, and as long as you teach your kids the reality of ads."

YouTube itself responded, stating that when creating the app the company "consulted with numerous partners and child advocacy and privacy groups" and are always "open to feedback on ways to improve the app." The YouTube Kids app officially launched back in February with a catalog of kid-friendly shows and parental controls, both aimed at giving kids a daily burst of entertainment without making parents worry about the more questionable content that can sometimes pop up on YouTube's official service.

Top Rated Comments

Tycho24 Avatar
100 months ago
"Don't be Evil"

Lol.

Great job, Google.
Score: 10 Votes (Like | Disagree)
macduke Avatar
100 months ago
"Don't be Evil"

Lol.

Great job, Google.

I think that train has long since left the station. Today it's rare if Google does something that ISN'T creepy or morally questionable.

Say what you will about Apple and their recently buggy software or other problems they've had with getting cloud services off the ground, but they never compromise on privacy or security. They advocate for the environment, accessibility and human rights. Some might say it's fluff to "look good" as a company, but if that were true, then why don't many other companies go to the lengths that they do across the board?

Google tries to look benevolent while mining your data, bypassing your browser settings for tracking, scanning your WiFi, or all the other things they've been busted for in recent memory. They're not the worst company out there, but they're far too creepy for me to use them if I can help it.
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
PopinFRESH Avatar
100 months ago
How about parents... I don't know, maybe be parents? /s

At least Google is providing options that do provide some parental controls and already eliminates a lot of inappropriate content for children. If you are just slapping a tablet in your kids hands and letting them just sit there watching youtube there is more of an issue than Google (or those "channels") showing marketing & promotional material.

-PopinFRESH
Score: 6 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ssspinball Avatar
100 months ago
Where's the evil? I mean seriously, where's the evil? :confused:

Did you RTFA?

"Google simply ignored the basics," Chester said. "They deliberately ignored the well-documented research on children's developmental limitations when it comes to advertising and programming."
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Jynto Avatar
100 months ago
The people who are defending Google should consider the implications of advertising to such a young audience. Many of them won't have seen adverts before, and that makes them vulnerable.

What would you think if you didn't know what an advert was? There's a reason why '90s cartoons had ad break bumpers that said "_______ will return after these messages." Otherwise you don't know what's an advert and what's not.
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Tycho24 Avatar
100 months ago
You don't have to insta-reply with "lol google" just because the word "Google" showed up in a headline on macrumors.
Feel free to go read my post history prior to "acting a fool", mmmmkay? Thx. Bye.
Edit: Google stock, purchased at $121 originally & sold in 2013 allowed me to pay cash for the home I live in!
Thx for assuming I must have knee jerked. Sooooo much lol.
----------

Where's the evil? I mean seriously, where's the evil? :confused:
Well...
Thankfully, I don't have a television. I don't inundate my kids with this garbage... but I'd say: rather than having commercials before, after, or during the programming... as I believe is customary- & instead tricking small children into thinking that the commercial IS the programming, is evil.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

maxresdefault

Can't Get an iPhone 14 Pro? Here's Why You Should Wait for the iPhone 15 Ultra

Monday December 5, 2022 11:44 am PST by
Due to production issues at Apple supplier factories in China, the iPhone 14 Pro and iPhone 14 Pro Max are backordered and basically out of stock at every store. If you were planning to gift or receive an iPhone 14 Pro model for the holidays and didn't already get one, you're basically out of luck because they're gone until late December. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more ...
iPhone Measure Height

Newer iPhones Allow You to Measure Someone's Height Instantly — Here's How

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:23 am PST by
iPhone 12 Pro and Pro Max, iPhone 13 Pro and Pro Max, and iPhone 14 Pro and Pro Max models feature a LiDAR Scanner next to the rear camera that can be used to measure a person's height instantly in Apple's preinstalled Measure app. To measure a person's height, simply open the Measure app, point your iPhone at the person you want to measure, and make sure they are visible on the screen from...
General iOS 16 Feature Yellow

iOS 16.2 for iPhone Launching This Month With These 8 New Features

Thursday December 1, 2022 8:44 am PST by
Apple plans to publicly release iOS 16.2 for the iPhone in mid-December, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. The update remains in beta testing for now, with at least eight new features and changes already uncovered so far. iOS 16.2 introduces a number of new features, including Apple's new whiteboard app Freeform, two new Lock Screen widgets for Sleep and Medications, the ability to hide...
14 vs 16 inch mbp m2 pro and max feature 1

Major RAM Upgrade Coming to Next-Generation MacBook Pro

Friday December 2, 2022 2:03 am PST by
The next-generation MacBook Pro models could feature faster RAM, according to a recent report from a reliable source. MacRumors Forums member "Amethyst," who accurately revealed details about the Mac Studio and Studio Display before those products were announced, recently provided information about Apple's upcoming 14- and 16-inch MacBook Pro models. The new machines are expected to feature...
iOS 16

When Will iOS 16.2 Be Released?

Friday December 2, 2022 2:13 pm PST by
Apple in late October began testing iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 updates, providing betas to both developers and public beta testers. As of now, we've had four total betas, with the fourth beta having been released earlier this week. iOS 16.2 and iPadOS 16.2 are expected before the end of the year, and we thought we'd try to narrow down the launch timeline. With only four betas released since...
apple ar headset concept 1

Kuo: Apple Headset Shipments Potentially Delayed Until Second Half of 2023

Sunday December 4, 2022 7:38 am PST by
Mass shipments of Apple's long-rumored AR/VR headset may be delayed until the second half of 2023 due to unspecified "software-related issues," according to the latest information shared today by tech analyst Ming-Chi Kuo. Apple headset render by Ian Zelbo Kuo said mass shipments of components for the headset are still likely to begin in the first half of 2023, but he believes that mass...
iPhone 14 Pro Purple Side Perspective Feature Purple

iPhone 15 Pro Rumored to Have These 5 Exclusive Features

Saturday December 3, 2022 10:55 am PST by
While we're still around nine months away from Apple unveiling the iPhone 15 lineup, rumors already suggest that the higher-end Pro models will have even more exclusive features than usual compared to the standard models next year. There are currently at least five features rumored to be exclusive to iPhone 15 Pro models:A17 chip: iPhone 15 Pro models will be equipped with an A17 Bionic...
nothing phone 2

Nothing Plans to Launch Smartphone in US to Take on Apple's iPhone

Monday December 5, 2022 12:38 am PST by
UK-based tech company Nothing plans to launch a smartphone in the US to directly compete with Apple's iPhone, according to a new report out today. In an interview with CNBC, Nothing CEO Carl Pei said the startup is in "early conversations" with American cellular carriers about launching a new phone in the US, but he stopped short of naming any of the carriers or the phone model. Nothing...
introducing apple music sing

Apple Music Adding a Karaoke Experience With Apple Music Sing

Tuesday December 6, 2022 7:09 am PST by
Apple today announced Apple Music Sing, a new feature in Apple Music that lets users sing their favorite songs with adjustable vocals and more. Apple Music Sing will utilize Apple Music's real-time lyrics to allow users to sing to their favorite songs using adjustable vocals, background vocals, and duet view to allow more than one singer.Apple Music Sing includes: Adjustable vocals: Users...