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macrumors bot
Original poster
Apr 12, 2001

A handful of prominent child advocacy groups plan to work together today in asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate Google's YouTube Kids app, with the groups claiming that the popular video streaming service is deceptively targeting kids with advertisements on the tablet and smartphone application (via San Jose Mercury News).

The root of the complaint stems from restrictions placed on children's entertainment dating back to the 1970's, which bans hosts of a kids' television series from attempting to sell products during a show, amongst other restrictions. The central crux of that established law, now coming back into play with the coalition's defense against Google, is that young kids haven't yet developed the reasoning behind resisting such advertisements, or even understand that they're being targeted in the first place.

The complaint to be filed Tuesday asks the FTC to investigate several features of YouTube Kids:

Branded channels: "McDonald's has its own channel on YouTube Kids ... (presenting) promotional videos styled as news reports on topics such as, 'What are McDonald's McNuggets made of?' ... (Branded channels) take advantage of children because they do not understand that the entire channel is actually advertising."

Lack of separation between shows and ads: "Selecting My Little Pony brings up four options. Two of the four options are labeled 'TV Commercial.' The other two are identified as 'TV Clip' but are actually promotions for the My Little Pony program.' "
The groups rallying against the YouTube Kids app allege Google's new kid-friendly application blurs the line between funny, kid-centric videos and lengthy product promotions. Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy, one of the groups campaigning for more regulation on the YouTube Kids app, sees this as just the first step in a long line of kids' entertainment regulation.
"This is the opening shot in a new battle with Google, Nickelodeon, Amazon, Netflix, Cartoon Network and others that are trying to cash in on this generation of young children," said Jeff Chester, director of the Center for Digital Democracy. "It's a battle for the hearts and minds and pocketbooks of America's kids in the digital age."

"Google simply ignored the basics," Chester said. "They deliberately ignored the well-documented research on children's developmental limitations when it comes to advertising and programming."
Chester also noted that the groups don't just want a more serious look into advertisements, but anything resembling such in the app as a whole, namely the perennially popular "unboxing videos" found on the service. "We want Google to pull all of its unboxing videos from the app," Chester said. "There's no disclosure of who actually owns those channels. They're an ad, in essence, for toys."

A few have stepped forward in speaking out in Google's favor, namely Parry Aftab, an Internet privacy lawyer, who pointed out that "something's got to pay" for the free app and said that she doesn't "worry about ads as long as they're not ads for Viagra and Victoria's Secret and things like that, and as long as you teach your kids the reality of ads."

YouTube itself responded, stating that when creating the app the company "consulted with numerous partners and child advocacy and privacy groups" and are always "open to feedback on ways to improve the app." The YouTube Kids app officially launched back in February with a catalog of kid-friendly shows and parental controls, both aimed at giving kids a daily burst of entertainment without making parents worry about the more questionable content that can sometimes pop up on YouTube's official service.

Article Link: 'YouTube Kids' Under Fire for Targeting Children with Advertisements


macrumors member
Mar 7, 2008
How about parents... I don't know, maybe be parents? /s

At least Google is providing options that do provide some parental controls and already eliminates a lot of inappropriate content for children. If you are just slapping a tablet in your kids hands and letting them just sit there watching youtube there is more of an issue than Google (or those "channels") showing marketing & promotional material.



macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
As a parent of little kids who have this app, yes, it's mostly ads. Sure, there's non-ad content, but the way it engages my children, they end up watching nothing but ads on it. Literally. That's all I've ever seen them watching.

Do I want Google to take action? Yeah, it'd be nice if the app was actually more than just an infinite commercial. But I don't feel like they are obligated to. I'll simply end up deleting this off their iPads again. For good this time since nothing seems to be improving.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 21, 2010
Orlando, FL
The real crux of the law is that parents, myself included are tired of being bombarded by requests for new __________ (apps, toys, superheroes, SKYLANDERS) EVERY. DAY.

I just feel like, if he didn't know about the new Skylanders coming out (which they do ALL the time) I wouldn't have to deal with his repeated requests, lol.

I feel like there are some good uses for the iPad I allow my son to use, but if I don't keep close enough tabs on him, he's on YouTube watching someone else play video games or build Minecraft worlds, or he's watching the latest walk through for Skylanders which requires additional purchases to unlock.

Although, I had plenty of pound puppies, He-Man, and Ghostbuster toys as a kid, no doubt thanks to Saturday morning cartoons and their associated ads. Maybe this is just the same thing for this generation.

/end rant.


macrumors 6502
Feb 15, 2005
Lansing, MI
I don't understand the issue. Youtube is a FREE SERVICE. It is paid for by ads. If you don't want ads, tell Google you are willing to pay for their video service.


macrumors G3
Nov 26, 2007
IMO, the difference between an ad and entertainment is that you choose to subject yourself to the entertainment, because you enjoy it, whereas an ad is forced upon you.

If the entertainment happens to make you want to buy a product, so be it.

If you don't like the entertainment, don't watch it. If a kid gets joy out of watching entertainment that happens to make them want to buy a product, who cares? It could be argued that pretty much any show for kids is just a long ad to sell them the merchandise.


macrumors regular
Apr 20, 2012
Google of late has been making some major changes to their Youtube policies which prevent uploaders from making any money from product placement or endorsements. All advertising on Youtube is being funneled through Google's AdSense platform. This is drastically decreasing content creators' revenues and increasing Google's.

All of Google's services are nothing but advertising platforms. Even Google Maps - local businesses which pay Google an advertising fee are featured above all other results on the map. Search for pizza restaurant, and you will see major brands like Dominos and Pizza Hut at the top, while mom and pop shops like Vinny's Pizzeria get squeezed into little unlabeled dots on the map.


macrumors 6502a
Jul 1, 2010
I'm not seeing how any of this is remotely different from Saturday morning cartoons...
The difference is that with cartoons on television, there is some balance. There is the show and the commercials. On the app, the kids just end up watching 100% commercials.


macrumors 603
Nov 4, 2008
IMO, the difference between an ad and entertainment is that you choose to subject yourself to the entertainment, because you enjoy it, whereas an ad is forced upon you.

You could choose not to watch either. Neither is forced upon you. Use the ad time as an excuse to do something constructive. Hell, use the entertainment time as an excuse to do something constructive if you really want to.

People love to moan about free things.


macrumors 604
Mar 11, 2013
Why wouldn't you expect kid friendly ads on a YouTube kids channel? Ads make up the internet now.


Oct 2, 2004
My feeling on the subject is, it's a free service and if you don't want your kid watching it, then maybe you shouldn't be such a cheap tight wod and maybe open up your wallet for a Netflix or Amazon prime account. They both have a kids only option with loads of content. I'm sick of the complaints from bad parents. Just because your piss poor parent sat you in front of a TV to "parent you" doesn't mean you should slap a tablet in your kids hands to "parent them" letting Google take the responsibility.


Dec 6, 2012
Google makes money through advertising. They make money by analyzing your on-line behavior and using it to sell more targeted advertising. If you have an issue with this, then maybe you should not have your child sitting around watching youtube.

I have a problem with this and generally stay away from google. But, I think they are clear that this is their business model, so it seems silly to complain about it, especially when there are other choices.


macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
In between a rock and a hard place
Did you RTFA?

Not only did I RTFA, I understood what I read. What you posted is an accusation, not a statement of fact. What you posted, in no way shape or form, can be construed as evil. Further, what you quoted actually says nothing. It leaves the user to guess what the research actually says. It does provide a scary narrative though. It doesn't answer who's research Chester is quoting. It doesn't say what conclusions were determined by this research. Is there competing, corroborative, or conflicting research?

It just says research. So yeah, I read the FA;). Better question. Did you understand what you read?


macrumors 68000
Oct 1, 2003
admittedly I haven't watched many kids shows on "TV" for quite some time, but I do recall commercials during kids show... How else would the shows, infrastructure, etc... be paid for? Time & effort went into building the apps, they should be able to make some money on them. If parents have an issue with it then they should delete the app, it's that simple.


macrumors regular
Jul 13, 2010
No unboxing videos, really?

Who are these nanny state twits that work at these organizations like the Center for Digital Democracy and why don't they get real jobs?


Aug 29, 2014
You don't have to insta-reply with "lol google" just because the word "Google" showed up in a headline on macrumors.

Feel free to go read my post history prior to "acting a fool", mmmmkay? Thx. Bye.
Edit: Google stock, purchased at $121 originally & sold in 2013 allowed me to pay cash for the home I live in!
Thx for assuming I must have knee jerked. Sooooo much lol.

Where's the evil? I mean seriously, where's the evil? :confused:

Thankfully, I don't have a television. I don't inundate my kids with this garbage... but I'd say: rather than having commercials before, after, or during the programming... as I believe is customary- & instead tricking small children into thinking that the commercial IS the programming, is evil.


macrumors G5
Jun 27, 2007
Central U.S.
"Don't be Evil"


Great job, Google.

I think that train has long since left the station. Today it's rare if Google does something that ISN'T creepy or morally questionable.

Say what you will about Apple and their recently buggy software or other problems they've had with getting cloud services off the ground, but they never compromise on privacy or security. They advocate for the environment, accessibility and human rights. Some might say it's fluff to "look good" as a company, but if that were true, then why don't many other companies go to the lengths that they do across the board?

Google tries to look benevolent while mining your data, bypassing your browser settings for tracking, scanning your WiFi, or all the other things they've been busted for in recent memory. They're not the worst company out there, but they're far too creepy for me to use them if I can help it.


macrumors 604
Jan 7, 2014
In between a rock and a hard place
Thankfully, I don't have a television. I don't inundate my kids with this garbage... but I'd say: rather than having commercials before, after, or during the programming... as I believe is customary- & instead tricking small children into thinking that the commercial IS the programming, is evil.

Maybe I'm missing your point, but commercials before, during, and after programming have nothing to do with Google, or being evil. Television? I'm lost again. This has nothing to do with television. It's about a youtube app.

If your quote was just a blanket statement about Google, then I get it. If it was specifically about this topic, I guess you see something I don't.
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