Young children have attracted by YouTube videos nearly three times as many viewers as other content on the platform, a study released on Thursday that provided ammunition to child rights advocates who want Alphabet Inc to take more aggressive measures to make its streaming service safer for children.
The Pew Research Center stated that its results show that videos for childrens are among YouTube’s most popular materials, attracting an audience that is out of proportion to the number of downloads.
Last year, the Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC) filed a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), claiming that YouTube’s parent company violated the law on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act.
The complaint said the company “made a vast amount of money by using children’s personal information and profited from advertising revenues from ads on its YouTube channels that are watched by children.”
“YouTube likes to pretend its not a site for children until it’s time to sell ads,” CCFC Executive Director Josh Golin said.
“We have always been clear YouTube has never been for people under 13,” said YouTube, which announced 2 billion monthly users in May.
Pew researchers said they analyzed activity during the first week of 2019 on nearly 44,000 YouTube channels with more than 250,000 subscribers.
Pew researchers analyzed the activity of the first week of 2019 on nearly 44,000 YouTube channels with more than 250,000 subscribers.
Just 2% of the 243,000 videos uploaded that week featured at least one individual that looked under 13 years old to human reviewers. But the small subset received an average of 298,000 views, compared with 97,000 for videos without children, according to the report. Median viewership figures were about 57,000 and 14,000.
Channels that uploaded at least one video featuring a child averaged 1.8 million subscribers, compared to 1.2 million for those that did not, Pew said.
YouTube said it could not comment on Pew’s survey methods or results. It maintained that the most popular categories are comedy, music, sports and “how to” videos.
According to other research, YouTube policies prohibit children under 13 from using their primary service and direct them to their YouTube Kids app. But many parents use YouTube’s main service to entertain or educate children.
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