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How to indicate your YouTube channel or videos are made for kids

Starting today, all YouTube creators need to indicate whether their content is "made for kids" in order to comply with the US FTC's Children's Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA). This is the case whether you  make content aimed at kids or not, and whether you are in the US or not.

Note: updated November 29 to include additional guidance from the FTC.

In September, YouTube announced they would treat all "children's content" as if children were watching in order to comply with COPPA.  COPPA limits the personal information that can be collected from children online without parental consent.

To comply, Creators must declare whether their Audience is kids or not. You can set the audience at the channel level or on individual videos.

YouTube also uses machine learning to identify content that appears to be aimed at a young audience. If you believe YouTube has gotten that automated automated designation wrong, you can send feedback (see below for details).

Content made for kids will have fewer features, some of which will affect monetization.

Individual videos and live streams "made for kids" will NOT have:
  • Personal advertising (but it can have non-personalized ads)
  • Comments
  • Channel branding watermark
  • Donate button 
  • Info cards or End screens
  • Live Chat or Live Chat Donations
  • Playback in the Miniplayer
  • Super Chat or Super Stickers
  • Merch Shelf
  • Save to playlist 
Channels "made for kids" will NOT have: 
  • Channel Memberships
  • Stories
  • The Community tab in the Channel page
  • Notification bell
Most of these changes go into effect in January.

While it might be tempting to rely on YouTube's machine learning algorithm to determine your Audience, there may be legal consequences if it gets it wrong.
If you don’t set your audience as made for kids, and the FTC or other authorities think it should have been, you may face legal consequences.
Update December 9: YouTube has shared their comment to COPPA on what they think is unclear about the policy, particularly around defining content as "child-directed",  "mixed audience" or "general audience". December 11 is the last day for the public to submit comments to the FTC.

YouTube Creators has a good general overview of this change:

Determine if your content is made for kids

As this is a legal issue, YouTube can't tell you whether your content is "made for kids" or not. (And it should go without saying, that I can't tell you that either.)

YouTube has provided some guidance on how to determine if your content is "child directed" (FTC's terminology) or "made for kids" (YouTube's terminology), so that's the place to start.

Some of the factors to consider include:
  • Whether your intended audience is kids
  • Subject matter of the videos
  • The use of animated characters
  • The use of child-oriented activities and incentives
  • The music or other audio content
  • The age of actors or models 
  • The presence of child celebrities or celebrities who appeal to children
  • Language used is for kids to understand
  • Whether advertising promoting the channel or videos is directed to children
Note that it doesn't matter if children actually are your primary audience. What matters is if your content is aimed at kids.

The FTC has provided some additional guidance:
  • "If your videos are about traditionally adult activities like employment, finances, politics, home ownership, home improvement, or travel, you’re probably not covered unless your content is geared toward kids."
  • "Just because your video has bright colors or animated characters doesn’t mean you’re automatically covered by COPPA"
  • "... consider how others view your content and content similar to yours. Has your channel been reviewed on sites that evaluate content for kids? Is your channel – or channels like yours – mentioned in blogs for parents of young children or in media articles about child-directed content?"
You can read the original complaint (particularly pages 10-14) to see how the FTC evaluated the channels in the original complaint.
It can be complicated, as YouTube points out:
The key is to balance all the COPPA specified factors that apply to this analysis. For example, the fact that a kid is featured in a video does not necessarily mean that the video is made for kids. You will have to look at all other attributes of the video like the intended audience, whether the video uses language that is intended for kids to understand, and the subject matter of the video (a medical video versus a play video).
If you cannot make a determination yourself, YouTube suggests you seek legal counsel.

Guidance:

Set the Audience for your channel


Set the audience for your entire channel in the Channel Settings in YouTube Studio on desktop.

1. Sign in to YouTube
2. Open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
3. Click the Settings gear on the left menu
4. On the Settings popup, click Channel
5. Click the Advanced Settings tab
6. Select one of the options:
  • Yes, set this channel as made for kids. I always upload content that's made for kids.
  • No, set this channel as not made for kids. I never upload content that's made for kids.
  • I want to review this setting for every video.
7. Save changes

Set the Audience for individual videos when you upload or set up a livestream

You can set individual videos and livestreams as "made for kids" or not.


On desktop you can set the Audience when you upload a video using the new uploader. 

1. Sign in to YouTube and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
2. Click the upload icon at upper right, and select Upload video (beta) (or if you don't see that, select Upload video)
3. Start your video upload
4. On the Basic info tab scroll down to Audience and select:
  • Yes, it’s made for kids
  • No, it’s not made for kids 
5. Click Next to continue the upload process

If you are live streaming on desktop you can set your audience before you go live:

1. Sign in to YouTube and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
2. In the upper right hand corner, click the upload icon.
3. Click Go live to open the Live Control Room (youtube.com/livestreaming)
4. Select: 
  • Yes, it’s made for kids
  • No, it’s not made for kids
5. Click Next to continue setting up your live stream.

Note that if you are using a third party app or service to upload your video or live stream, this option isn't available yet.  YouTube says they will make the audience selection tool available to third-party applications and the YouTube API Services in the "near future." If your videos are "made for kids" you need to be sure to set this in your video manager, or upload on YouTube directly.

Set the Audience for uploaded videos or completed live streams


You can set the audience for videos and processed live streams in YouTube Studio on desktop.

1. Sign in to YouTube and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
2. On the left menu click Videos
3. On the Uploads tab or Live tab click the box next to videos you want to set the audience for
4. On the black bar above the videos click Edit
5. Select Audience
6. Select:
  • Yes, it’s made for kids
  • No, it’s not made for kids
7. Click Update videos

You can also set the Audience in the YouTube Studio Android or iOS mobile app.

Note that you may have to update to the latest version of the app to see this option.

1. Open the YouTube Studio app (get the YouTube Studio app)
2. Under Videos, tap the video you’d like to update.
3. Tap Edit
4. Tap Advanced Settings
5. Scroll to Audience
6. Select:
  • Yes, it’s made for kids
  • No, it’s not made for kids

What to do if YouTube sets your video to "made for kids" and you disagree

If you have not yet set an Audience for a video yet, but YouTube's automated systems have set it "made for kids" you can change it.

1. Sign in to YouTube on desktop and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
2. Click Videos on the left menu
3. Find the video you’d like to edit and under Restrictions, click made for kid
4. Click Review audience setting 
5. Under Audience, select No it’s not made for kids 

If you set the audience as "not made for kids", but YouTube's automated systems disagree, you will see it marked as Made for kids - Set by YouTube. You cannot change that setting. All you can do is send feedback.
1. Sign in to YouTube on desktop and open YouTube Studio (studio.youtube.com)
2. Click Videos on the left menu
3. Click the video
4. Click Send feedback.

Resources

Comments

  1. I'm not sure I understand whether explicitly marking a channel as not made for kids requires creators to have further obligations toward an audience of kids.

    What confuses me is this sentence: If you don’t set your audience as made for kids, and the FTC or other authorities think it should have been, you may face legal consequences. If I explicitly set my channel as not for kids, are kids still allowed to watch my videos? Are my videos blocked to kids?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Peggy, I always appreciate a blog which motivates me into action.

      Delete
    2. Paolo: If you indicate your channel is not "made for kids" then it will remain just as it is now - viewable to the public, with all the same YouTube features. And the way I understand it, is that if you are not aiming your content at kids, not promoting it to kids, not designing it to appeal to kids, then it shouldn't be an issue if kids happen to watch it.

      The problem would be if you designated your channel as not made for kids, and it actually was aimed at kids. That could possibly be a legal issue.

      There is a distinction between "made for kids" and "family friendly" - you can have content that is "family friendly" and doesn't particularly appeal to kids at all.

      Unfortunately there is some gray area there, especially for creators who have content that might particularly appeal to kids, even if it isn't aimed at them (like using cartoon characters).

      It remains to be seen how all this will actually be enforced.

      Delete
    3. Thanks Peggy, that's a great explanation.

      Delete
  2. Hey Peggy! I use YouTube basically as a free, online storage medium for my family's home made videos of mostly my kids and their 3-5 year old antics. I have only 8 subscribers, all family members. I have several thousand videos as I've been uploading to YouTube since my first was born, 5 years ago. I have no interest in monetizing these videos. It's simply a storage/sharing medium for my distant family to watch the kids grow up from out of state. I upload them "unlisted" in case someone wants to share. I create Monthly Playlists of each month's videos for our family to watch later. It's kindof neat to be able to go back and figure out, for example, when did my first born finally figure out that "diapers were not forever"?
    Are my videos "made for kids"? I actually made them for the grandparents. But I don't think I mind them being marked as "Made for kids". What do you think? Will my created playlists be deleted if they're marked "Made for kids"?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Michael,

      I'm not sure if they should be marked "made for kids" or not. It shouldn't make much of a difference if your videos are, in fact, made for kids, because you aren't monetizing or trying to promote them.

      I would actually suggest considering uploading your videos to Google Photos instead of (or in addition to) YouTube. That's actually designed for private sharing and uploading many photos and videos, where YouTube really isn't ideal for that. You can also create albums and such.

      There is a Google Photos uploader app for desktop computers.

      Delete

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