Alphabet’s video streaming service, YouTube recently announced that it has decided to turn off the autoplay feature. The move will squarely be for user accounts under 18 years of age and YouTube Kids.
The announcement will certainly make a lot of parents happy as kids are less likely to spend hours together watching videos.
What Is YouTube Autoplay?
Image Source: YouTube
The autoplay feature on YouTube allows the algorithm to suggest new videos after the user has completed watching the first one.
In the case of YouTube Kids, it would continuously keep play videos like episodes of the same show, or related videos, which the kids might enjoy.
This feature encouraged children to watch more videos extending their screen time, sometimes without the knowledge of the parents.
Under the new rules, YouTube has turned off autoplay permanently for users under 18 years of age and for YouTube Kids.
Aims To Reduce Screen Time
The move is certainly a responsible one from the tech giant. Considering Home-Based Learning (HBL) and the fact that most of us are staying indoors during the pandemic, screen time for children has increased by a significant margin.
However, if you just pass your phones to children without activating parental control, this feature won’t be effective. For accounts of adults, the autoplay feature will remain as is, as it continues to stay optional for adult users.
Ideally, parents can turn off the autoplay feature on their phones before handing it over to the child. However, in the case of tablets, or streaming videos on TV, the feature remains automatically on.
That’s why kids tend to extend their screen time on YouTube even further when there’s little or no parental supervision.
But those against the autoplay feature on YouTube have also called it “manipulative.”
More Security Features Incoming On YouTube
Image Source: Pexels
In another safety measure, YouTube also announced that it plans the make the default upload setting to private uploads for underage YouTube users. This means the content uploaded by users between 13 and 17 years, can only be seen by those users and whoever they choose to share.
Underage creators will still be able to make their videos public by changing the default visibility settings if they want to. The move is to keep these videos away from predators on the Internet, especially keeping paedophiles away from such users.
YouTube will also send reminders about the privacy settings to the users, as an added protection measure.
Furthermore, YouTube plans to add reminders for kids to take a break from the app and alerts. This will indicate that may be it’s time for bed.
This feature though will be specifically for users between the ages of 13 and 17 years. Having said that, it won’t harm if they introduce the latter feature for adults as well.
In addition to the security measures, YouTube says it plans to include parental controls on the platform.
The company is also working to crackdown overtly commercial content. This particularly includes videos that focus on product packaging and encourage users to spend money.
5 Ways To Reduce Screen Time In Kids
1. Be accountable
Parents need to set expectations and goals with the kids when it comes to screen time. Make sure kids follow the same and do not extend the screen time with or without your permission.
2. Be real about the usage
Remember kids like to be active and engage themselves in some activity or the other. So if you say ‘no’ to watching a new video, make sure you have something else for them to do.
For parents who are looking to reduce their child’s screen time, make it a gradual process. For instance, try reducing their screen time by 15 minutes every week.
So, if they were watching videos for two hours and you want to reduce it to one hour, make it a gradual process.
3. Be a part of their life
Most kids resort to watching videos because they don’t find a lot of attention at home. You can change by dedicating time to your child and about their life.
Listen to how their day was in school, any concerns they have and what they want to do next. It’ll help you strengthen your bond with the child as well.
4. Put the hand-held devices away
This is the easiest thing to do to distract kids away from the black mirror. Keep the devices out of sight or at a common charging station, and engage kids in other activities.
5. Create a screen-free zone
From the dining table to the bedroom, certain places in the house should be screen-free. And this rule needs to apply to every member in the home.
The rule should also apply in the living room, especially when it’s family time. Replace the phones with a board game instead.
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