YouTube’s new teen safeguards limit repeated viewing of some video topics and more. YouTube today revealed additional product controls surrounding its content recommendations targeted at minors, two years after testifying before the U.S. Senate over child safety concerns, including kids’ exposure to eating disorder content.
The business specifically said that it would restrict the number of times it would promote films on subjects that may exacerbate problems with body image, such as comparing physical attributes or idealizing particular body shapes, weights, or fitness levels. It will also prohibit the repeated viewing of recordings that show “social aggression” in the form of intimidation or non-contact fighting.
According to YouTube, while some of these videos might not be harmful, kids who regularly watch the same content may develop health issues. Since the content that viewers interact with affects YouTube’s recommendations, these restrictions are necessary.
In an indication that YouTube is attempting to get ahead of proposed child safety regulations, such as the bipartisan bill KOSA (the Kids Online Safety Act), which was presented last year after hearings on teen mental health, the company said it would initially limit repeated viewing of these videos in the U.S. with more countries to follow over the following year. Following Senators Marsha Blackburn (TN-R) and Richard Blumenthal’s official submission of the measure in May, Senator Elizabeth Warren (MA-D) has joined the group of sponsors.
YouTube announced that it will update its “take a break” and “bedtime” reminders, which were initially launched in 2018, in addition to the suggestions. These characteristics will now be “more visually prominent” and more frequently seen by users who are younger than 18. The features will now appear as full-screen takeovers on YouTube shorts and long-form videos, with the default “take a break” reminder set for every 60 minutes. In the account settings and YouTube notes, the features are, by default, enabled. Similar alerts are already available on rival TikTok in the form of brief movies that appear in the user’s For You feed after an extended period of scrolling.
YouTube has announced that it will also make its crisis resource panels whole pages for users to explore while researching issues like eating disorders, suicide, and self-harm. According to YouTube, users may find tools such as independent crisis hotlines and other recommended cues that nudge them toward other subjects, such as “self-compassion” or “grounding exercises.”
YouTube claims to have collaborated with the World Health Organization (WHO) and Common Sense Networks, a subsidiary of Common Sense Media, to create these new criteria. YouTube said that the latter will assist in the creation of new instructional materials for parents and teenagers, which will include “best practices for approaching comments, shares, and other online interactions, as well as guidance on developing intentional and safe online habits and creating content with empathy and awareness.” The WHO and the British Medical Journal will facilitate a roundtable discussion on options for online resources and information provision related to adolescent mental health. It is anticipated that a report will be released in early 2024.