YouTube launches ‘supervised’ mode for parental-controlled viewing, but says system ‘will make mistakes’

YouTube is launching a “supervised” version, acting as a middle-ground between the video site’s YouTube Kids setting and its main site.

A new beta will be launching for parents, who can allow access for their kids via a supervised Google account.

The company will disable in-app purchases, creation, and comment features – although YouTube says that over time these features could be added through an “age-appropriate” approach.

“We’ve heard from parents and older children that tweens and teens have different needs, which weren’t being fully met by our products”, YouTube’s James Beser, Director of Product Management, said in a statement.

“As children grow up, they have insatiable curiosity and need to gain independence and find new ways to learn, create, and belong.”

The supervised Google account gives parents a choice of three settings for children. These are “Explore”, “Explore More”, and “Most of YouTube”.

These settings are generally tied to age ratings, with the first being set at 9+, the second for 13+, and the third contains “almost all videos on YouTube, except for age-restricted content”.

YouTube says that its moderation system will use “a mix of user input, machine learning and human review” to determine which videos are suitable based on age ratings, but also says that it “will make mistakes and will continue to evolve over time.”

YouTube’s admission of potential failures in its system comes off the back of numerous breaches of the security of the YouTube Kids app over time.