YouTube details “existing, recently launched, and upcoming tools” that protect young users’ mental health

By 02/07/2024
YouTube details “existing, recently launched, and upcoming tools” that protect young users’ mental health

YouTube CEO Neal Mohan was not among the tech CEOs called to Capitol Hill for a recent Congressional hearing on social media safety, but Mohan’s team is nevertheless pointing out the features it has developed to support the children, tweens, and teens who watch its videos. A YouTube blog post published on Safer Internet Day detailed “existing, recently launched, and upcoming tools” that protect the mental health of underage users.

Some of the tools mentioned in YouTube’s update have been available for years. For the platform’s teenage users, autoplay is automatically turned off so that it’s harder to fall into an internet rabbit hole. YouTube is also reminding its community that they can be prompted to take breaks and can give themselves a scheduled “bedtime” reminder. Those features were first revealed in 2018 and have also been adopted on platforms like Instagram.

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Child safety on the internet has become a hot topic during the Biden presidency, and YouTube has responded by enhancing its suite of mental health assets. The platform’s Youth and Families Advisory Committee has worked alongside its execs to introduce several new policies, including a system that limits teen exposure to “idealized body standards” and a list of guiding principles that inform YouTube’s approach to youth safety. The most recent addition to YouTube’s trove of research is a report on internet mental health co-authored by the World Health Organization.

YouTube touted itself as a champion of responsible online activity during Safer Internet Day, a tradition that dates back to 2004. Despite all the tools mentioned above, YouTube doesn’t have a perfect record when it comes to child safety. In 2019, the FTC slapped Google with a nine-digit fine related to child data privacy violations. Overseas, the E.U. is currently investigating YouTube’s approach to child safety.

Despite those speed bumps, Mohan and his team are pushing forward with more safeguards. “Our existing digital wellbeing tools have helped parents around the world strike the right balance for their families between watching and wellbeing since 2018,” reads the Safer Internet Day post, “and we’ve continued to invest and improve on these tools over the years to make them even more relevant for teens.”

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