For parents, the dilemma of whether or not to set up your kids' Google account as a child account, and suffer the consequences, is real. Google is finally acknowledging that one of the biggest downsides of that experience is being tied to YouTube Kids. The company just announced that it will soon start testing "supervised experiences," which will allow parents to let their tweens and teens access YouTube in a controlled manner.
What "supervised experiences" on YouTube offer
Google says that they will feel more like YouTube than YouTube Kids. Parents will have the option to choose from three different content settings: Explore, Explore More, and Most of YouTube.
Explore will feature a broader range of videos suitable for viewers above nine, including vlogs, music videos, educational content, and more. The second setting, Explore More, will include a larger set of such videos that are generally suitable for viewers age 13+. Lastly, Most of YouTube, will contain almost all videos except age-restricted content (18+ years), including sensitive topics.
Google says that it'll use a mix of user input, machine learning, and human review to determine which videos will be included in each content setting.
It's important to note that the experience will be restrained, and feature availability will differ depending on each content setting. For instance, livestreams will be disabled in the Explore setting, and features like comments, live chat, all create options (channel, posts, stories, shorts, etc.), and channel memberships will be unavailable.
In addition to content settings, parents will have access to watch and search history, and will also be able to set screen timers via Google's Family Link.
How to set up "supervised experiences" on YouTube
Unfortunately, you'll still have to wait before you can try out the new experience, as it'll only be available in "early beta" in the coming months. The beta will only be available for families with kids under the age of consent, which is below 13 in most countries (exceptions). Parents with teens will have to wait a bit longer.
If your kid already has a supervised Google account, you won't have to follow any additional steps to access this experience. You'll likely be informed via email if you do get selected to be a part of the early beta.
What about YouTube Kids? Is it going away?
No, YouTube Kids isn't going away, and Google still recommends the standalone app for younger kids that offers a simpler experience but a smaller collection of videos. There's also a promise of bringing more features to the app, one of which is the highly-requested option for parents to enable access to specific videos and channels.
If you're confused between "supervised experiences" and YouTube Kids, you should check out Google's handy comparison table.
What about YouTube Music for kids?
The demise of Google Play Music hasn't fared well with users; they don't think YouTube Music is a worthy alternative. While there are many differences to be discussed, the one relevant in this context is that — unlike GPM — YouTube Music isn't available for kids under 13. This left some families no option but to switch to alternatives like Spotify.
While YouTube Music won't be supported in the beta launch, we’re working to bring it there in the future.
— TeamYouTube (@TeamYouTube) February 24, 2021
Fortunately, it seems like YouTube is working on fixing this. As mentioned in the tweet above, YouTube Music for kids should arrive when "supervised experiences" will exit beta — exactly when, though, is anyone's guess.