The Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA) is a United States federal law, passed in 1998 and effective from April 2000. This law is administered by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).
COPPA is designed to protect the online privacy of children under the age of 13 by providing parents with control over what information websites and online services can collect from their children.
Why Do We Need COPPA?
As the internet evolved, it became clear that children were engaging with various websites and services, often providing personal information.
There were concerns about the safety of this information and how it could be used without parental consent. COPPA was thus introduced to ensure that parents are given control over the information collected from their children online.
This law provides a safeguard, ensuring that such data cannot be collected without explicit parental consent.
How Does COPPA Affect Me?
If you’re a parent or guardian of a child under 13 in the U.S., COPPA gives you control over your child’s personal information. It allows you to prevent websites and online services from collecting your child’s personal information without your permission.
If you’re a website owner or operator, or an online service provider whose services are directed to children under 13 or have actual knowledge that you are collecting personal information from children under 13, you need to comply with COPPA.
This includes getting parental consent before collecting, using, or disclosing such information.
How Can I Stay Safe and Compliant?
If you’re a parent, make sure to educate your child about the importance of not giving away personal information online. Also, regularly monitor the websites and online services your child uses and give consent only if you deem it safe.
If you’re a website owner, online service provider, or an app developer, here are the steps you need to take to comply with COPPA:
Provide direct notice to parents and obtain verifiable parental consent, with limited exceptions, before collecting personal information from children.
Provide a reasonable means for a parent to review the personal information collected from a child and to refuse to permit its further use.
Establish and maintain reasonable procedures to protect the confidentiality, security, and integrity of the personal information collected from children.
Retain personal information collected online from a child for only as long as is necessary to fulfill the purpose for which it was collected and delete the information using reasonable measures to protect against its unauthorized access or use.
Do not condition a child’s participation in online activities on the child providing more information than is reasonably necessary to participate in that activity.Notable COPPA Violations and Fines
Please note that the FTC regularly reviews and updates its rules and regulations to ensure the safety of children online, so it’s crucial to stay updated with the most recent guidelines from the FTC’s official website.
The COPPA is crucial in today’s digital age to protect children and give control to parents over their child’s online information. By understanding COPPA, its purpose, and its requirements, you can ensure to comply with the law and provide a safe environment for children online.
COPPA FAQs for Beginners
Q: Who does COPPA apply to?A: COPPA applies to operators of commercial websites and online services, including mobile apps, that are directed to children under 13 and collect, use, or disclose personal information from children.
Q: What types of personal information does COPPA protect?A: COPPA protects personal information like full name, home or email address, telephone number, Social Security number. It also protects other types of information like hobbies, interests, and information collected through cookies or other types of tracking mechanisms when they are tied to individually identifiable information.
Q: How does COPPA define an “operator”?A: Under COPPA, an operator is anyone who operates a website or online service and collects personal information from children, or on whose behalf such information is collected and maintained.
Q: What is ‘verifiable parental consent’ under COPPA?A: Verifiable parental consent is any reasonable effort, taking into consideration available technology, to ensure that a parent of a child receives notice of the operator’s personal information collection, use, and disclosure practices, and authorizes the collection, use, and disclosure, as applicable, of personal information and the subsequent use of that information before that information is collected from that child.
Q: What are the penalties for non-compliance with COPPA?A: The FTC is authorized to bring legal actions and impose penalties up to $43,792 per violation.
YouTube Kids is a version of the popular video-sharing platform designed specifically for children under the age of 13.
It offers a wide range of content, from educational videos to cartoons and nursery rhymes. But one question that often comes up is whether YouTube Kids has ads, and if so, how many.
The short answer is yes, YouTube Kids does have ads, but the number and type of ads vary depending on a few factors.
First, let’s talk about the types of ads you might see on YouTube Kids. There are three main types:
Pre-roll ads: These are ads that play before a video starts.
Mid-roll ads: These are ads that play in the middle of a video.
Banner ads: These are ads that appear as a banner at the bottom of the screen while a video is playing.
Now, let’s look at the numbers. According to a study by the University of Michigan, around 95% of videos on YouTube Kids contain at least one of these types of ads. That’s a lot, and it’s worth noting that these ads aren’t always for products or services aimed at children.
In fact, a separate study by the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood found that over 50% of ads on YouTube Kids were for food and drinks that are high in sugar, salt, or fat. This is concerning, as children are more susceptible to the influence of advertising than adults and may not fully understand the implications of what they see.
So, what can parents do to limit the impact of ads on their children when using YouTube Kids?
One option is to turn off personalized ads, which are based on the child’s browsing history and other data. This can be done in the app’s settings.
Another option is to use an ad blocker. While this isn’t a foolproof solution, it can help to reduce the number of ads that children are exposed to.
Types of ads on YouTube Kids
Type of ad
Ads that play before a video starts
Ads that play in the middle of a video
Ads that appear as a banner at the bottom of the screen
Percentage of YouTube Kids videos containing ads
Type of ad
Percentage of videos with this type of ad
YouTube Kids also has sponsored content, which is essentially a form of advertising. Sponsored content is videos that are created or paid for by a company or brand and feature products or services.
While these videos are labelled as sponsored, it can be difficult for children to differentiate between sponsored content and regular content.
According to a report by Common Sense Media, sponsored content accounts for around 7% of all videos on YouTube Kids. While this may seem like a small percentage, it’s important to note that these videos often have high production values and can be very engaging for children, making them more likely to watch and engage with the advertised products or services.
Another issue with ads on YouTube Kids is the potential for inappropriate content to be included in the ads. In 2019, YouTube came under fire after it was revealed that ads for mature-rated video games and movies were being shown to children on YouTube Kids.
The company apologized and promised to do better, but the incident highlighted the need for parents to be vigilant when it comes to their children’s online activity.
Among kids aged 8 to 12, YouTube is also the most commonly used social media platform, with 72% of them using it. (Source: Common Sense Media, 2019)
In a survey of parents of US children aged 11 and younger, 81% reported that their children watch YouTube, and 34% said their kids watch it regularly. (Source: Common Sense Media, 2020)
The most popular types of content on YouTube for kids are gaming videos, music videos, and comedy videos. (Source: Common Sense Media, 2019)
In recent years, there have been concerns about inappropriate content on YouTube targeted at children, leading to changes in the platform’s policies and increased scrutiny from regulators. (Source: CNBC, 2019)
So, what can parents do to minimize the impact of ads on their children when using YouTube Kids? Here are a few tips:
Use parental controls: YouTube Kids has a range of parental controls that allow parents to limit the content their children can access. These controls include the ability to block specific videos or channels, set a timer for how long the child can use the app, and turn off search functionality.
Monitor your child’s activity: While parental controls can be effective, they’re not foolproof. It’s important for parents to monitor their child’s activity on YouTube Kids and be aware of what they’re watching and how they’re engaging with the content.
Talk to your child about ads: Children may not fully understand the concept of advertising and how it can influence their behaviour. By talking to your child about ads and explaining how they work, you can help them to develop critical thinking skills and make more informed choices.
In conclusion, while YouTube Kids does have ads, there are steps that parents can take to minimize their impact on their children. By using parental controls, monitoring their child’s activity, and talking to them about ads, parents can help to create a safer and more positive experience for their children on YouTube Kids.
Moderating YouTube is a practically impossible task for mere humans to undertake, which is why YouTube has taken to using algorithms and AI to lessen this particular burden. Of course, this can sometimes lead to incorrect judgements and, more often, correct judgements that are called into question due to the fact that it wasn’t a human being that made them.
Age restriction is one of the more tricky things that can happen to your video because it’s not always clear why it happened. Demonetisation is—most of the time at least—relatively straightforward.
If your video has a lot of bad language, is about a controversial topic, or is generally adult in nature, you can expect it to get pulled from the eyes of paying advertisers.
But when your content is age-restricted, there are a number of limitations that come with it, and it may not seem fair if your content isn’t intended for younger audiences.
Age Restriction: Things to Note
Understanding some of the logic behind age restriction judgements can help you stay on top of things and avoid unexpected notifications on your videos. Here are a few things to think about when considering your videos in this context.
YouTube Doesn’t Care About Intent
YouTube’s hands are legally tied when it comes to content that is consumed by underage viewers. The COPPA regulations that caused so many changes to YouTube in the not-so-distant past are a little broad in scope, and YouTube has been forced to be similarly broad with their application of it.
In practical terms, this means that it doesn’t matter if your video is meant for children. If the majority of your audience is underage, your content—and probably your channel—will be treated as though it is a channel for younger viewers, and that means age restriction.
Age Restriction Does Not Equal Demonetisation
It can sometimes feel like having your videos age-restricted is the same as demonetisation, especially when compared to the earning performance of non-age restricted videos, but unless YouTube explicitly says your video is not eligible for monetisation, you are not demonetised.
The problem is that the aforementioned COPPA regulations dramatically reduce the amount of information that YouTube can collect about the viewer when that viewer is a child. This, in turn, dramatically reduces the number of advertisers that are interested in having their ads shown on those videos.
The main advantage of online advertising is the wealth of information that can be gleaned in real time. Where TV advertisements have to rely on vague demographics, YouTube can deliver specific information on a per user basis. This is extremely appealing for advertisers because it means they get more bang for their buck—more likelihood of their money resulting in customers—but COPPA’s restrictions remove that advantage. The net result is that fewer advertisers are interested in spending their money on videos where they can’t be sure what kind of viewers are watching.
AI and Algorithms Make Mistakes
People make mistakes, so it stands to reason that automated methods made by people can make the occasional gaff as well. Unfortunately, because those mistakes are made by machines, it can sometimes be difficult to get them overturned. One of the more common examples of this is facial recognition.
If YouTube’s AI overseers spot a child in a video, it will put certain restrictions in place, such as disabling comments. You can turn comments back on, but YouTube will automatically turn them off again. Getting human intervention from a company like this with as many users as YouTube is, needless to say, difficult.
Negatively Affected Users Are a Minority
From YouTube’s perspective, the number of users who are negatively affected by things like false flags—or even who are negatively affected by accurate flags—makes up such a small percentage of the overall user base that YouTube have little or no intention of expending the resources needed to it perfect. In other words, if you are one of those statistically insignificant YouTubers who are affected by these problems, there is little sense in waiting for it to get better.
How to Avoid Getting Age Restricted
For YouTubers who make content for kids, or whose channels often feature children (such as family vlogs) there isn’t much you can do other than drastically changing your channel’s content.
One of the most obvious things you can do is making sure that your video is not set as “for children” when you upload it. If this box is checked, YouTube won’t do any verification, it will just assume your video is correctly set as children’s content and treat it is as such.
For YouTubers who do not make content that falls into this category and who have correctly set it up in YouTube Studio, the main thing to avoid is having children in your videos. You can usually convince YouTube’s algorithms that your content is not for kids—even if it is a very child-centric topic—if your content is mostly not for kids. But the presence of a child in your video will cause that video to be flagged for age restriction regardless of how often you make that kind of content.
Finally, if possible, try not to focus too heavily on topics that are predominantly associated with children’s content. As much as things like Minecraft and Fortnite may be perfectly good entertainment for adults, the reality is that most of the people watching videos about those things will be children. If you exclusively make videos on those topics, you greatly increase the chances of YouTube thinking your content needs age restricting.
Age restriction, unlike full-on demonetisation, is not the end of the world for YouTubers who rely on revenue from YouTube’s Partner Programme. We’d be lying if we said the earning potential isn’t greatly reduced, but it is not removed altogether. Ultimately, you should make the content you want to make, and consider tweaking things to suit your financial goals, rather than changing your channel wholesale.
There are always other ways to monetise your content.
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
YouTube has had its fair share of horror stories over the years when it comes to dubious content and impressionable children.
Whether it’s sinister hoaxes like the Momo Challenge, which turned out to be completely fake, or incidents like children eating dishwasher detergent, which was very real, there is seemingly never a shortage of reasons for parents to worry about their children’s online presence.
Add to this the general fear of child grooming that has been around since the early days of the Internet, and even relatively minor issues, by comparison, such age-inappropriate content, and it is easy to see why parents might be reluctant to let their children roam free through the pages of YouTube without supervision.
That being said, you can only watch your children’s activities so much. And, while it may be possible to supervise their every move early on in life, there comes a time where it is not feasible to keep an eye on them all of the time without seriously limiting their freedom.
Of course, we can’t guide in general parenting—that’s not what this blog is about—but we can give you advice specifically as it pertains to your children and YouTube.
YouTube’s Policy on Children
Largely thanks to regulatory intervention, YouTube is quite strict about not allowing children unfettered access to their platform. Even to the point that if you register a children’s account (more on that later), YouTube will not allow that account to access the full YouTube service even if you, the parent, want to enable it.
YouTube’s terms of service state that you have to be over thirteen years of age to have a full YouTube account that can access the regular service, rather than YouTube Kids—a moderated version of YouTube. Furthermore, children under thirteen cannot upload videos to the platform.
That being said, YouTube does not demand proof of identity when you sign up for an account, so there is nothing to stop you or your child from creating a YouTube account and lying in the age field.
Still, for a concerned parent, it can help to know that, if you aren’t lying in the age field, YouTube actually does a lot to protect your children. Whether they do enough to protect your children is a judgement only you can make, but they certainly take a good deal of the burden off of you when it comes to moderating what your child watches.
“Made For Kids” Content
Primarily due to the regulations we hinted at above, YouTube is very proactive when it comes to content that is made for children, regardless of who made the content or whether it is declared as made for kids by the uploader.
The main difference with Made For Kids content is that the selection of advertisements that can be served around this content is considerably more restricted.
This is partly due to the fact that YouTube is required to not store personal data for children, which deters many advertisers because they want to target their ads at specific demographics, which can’t be done if you have no information about the viewer.
Of course, there is also the fact that some advertisements are not suitable for a young audience, which further reduces the pool of advertisements that can be played to children.
It is worth reiterating that these rules apply to any videos that YouTube deems to be made for children. Granted, most of the time, they will know this because the uploader declares that it is made for children, but in some cases, YouTube will decide themselves, regardless of what the uploader says.
Things to Look Out For
It’s not hard to find YouTube tips for parents articles that cover the obvious things; violence, sexual content, and generally inappropriate topics.
These are, we feel, quite obvious, and nothing new. Parents have had to be mindful of their children watching inappropriate content since the 1970s, and it is something we are very culturally aware of today.
So we thought we’d go over some of the less obvious—and more uniquely YouTube—things to be mindful of as a parent.
Envy and Depression
Social media, in general, has brought with it a host of new challenges for society. Perhaps one of the least expected of these challenges is depression as a result of envy caused by continually seeing the glossy lives of online personalities.
This phenomenon may be more associated with platforms like Facebook and Instagram, but the premise is no less applicable to YouTube. Essentially, your children see the seemingly perfect lives of their favourite YouTubers day in, day out, and begin to feel depressed that their life is not as good.
In these cases, it is important to stress to your child that what they see on YouTube, even in seemingly honest and personal vlogs, is not necessarily representative of real life. In much the same way that you should explain to your child that Spider-Man is not a documentary, and they shouldn’t try to swing from the roof, you should explain to them that the videos they see on YouTube are crafted, and only show what the YouTuber wants them to show.
Nobody’s life is perfect.
There is a whole niche on YouTube dedicated to children opening packages and demoing toys, which is very popular because children love to see new toys.
Of course, toy commercials have been around for decades, and children seeing a shiny new toy on the television and wanting that toy is nothing new, but it’s a little different on YouTube.
The problem is that these videos typically feature children opening and playing with the toys. To make matters worse, the channels that produce this kind of content are often families and shoot the videos as though their children are getting this unending stream of new toys as part of their everyday life.
Unlike the commercials we mentioned, this can create an expectation in your child that this is how things are. After all, they are not watching an advertisement, but a child just like them, seemingly living their life. It’s only natural for your child to wonder why their life is not full of new toys in exciting hiding places every day.
Again, the trick to avoiding this is to talk to your child and make sure they understand that videos like this are made for entertainment value, and not just filmed during someone’s average day. Many of these channels donate the toys they feature, so be sure to explain that as well.
This one is a little subjective in that different parents will have different views on whether it is a cause for concern or not.
YouTube features plenty of current events in the form of news reports, commentary, and other formats. It is safe to say that the world has not been a particularly happy place in recent years, and with the light of social media shining into every crevice of the world lately, there will always be plenty of negativity to make YouTube videos about.
Being a parent is all about striking balances, and this is one of those times. Where the right balance lies between sheltering your child from the world entirely and over-exposing them to it for you is a judgement you will have to make as a parent.
We are merely warning you that there is a lot of current events content on YouTube, and with the state of the world lately, your child could well be exposed to far more negativity than you would like.
Technically this would fall under those obvious examples we mentioned above—children have been getting injured trying to recreate stunts they have seen on television for as long as there has been television. Still, in light of the uniquely Internet threats that platforms like YouTube have been witness to, it is worth mentioning this one.
Sometimes through malicious intent, sometimes through pure stupidity, Internet “challenges” crop up on a semi-regular basis. These challenges involve people—often children—filming themselves performing some action that can be dangerous to their wellbeing.
These kinds of challenges started harmlessly enough, with things like planking in strange places, doing a particular dance, or eating a spoonful of cinnamon. The Ice Bucket challenge that stormed the Internet is an example of this kind of challenge that actually did some good in the world, raising a lot of money for charity. Unfortunately, as is often the case with dares—which is essentially what Internet challenges are—things tend to escalate. More recent challenges have involved attempting to eat corn on the cob using power tools, and the detergent-eating incident we mentioned above.
The corn on a cob challenge naturally led to several injuries, and the problem with the detergent incident shouldn’t need explaining here.
YouTube Tips for Parents
Being aware of the dangers YouTube can present for your children is only part of the battle—you also need to know how to combat them. Every parent handles things their own way, and, abusive behaviour aside, it is not for us to say who is right in their parenting methods.
That being said, here are some approaches to take with your children to help keep them safe on YouTube, and you can make your own informed decisions as a parent.
And, just to address it, preventing your child from watching YouTube at all is obviously an option, but this is a blog about YouTube, so we’ll be sticking to methods that involve your child still watching YouTube.
Talk to Your Child
One of the most obvious ways to protect your child from many things in life, not just YouTube, is education.
Take curse words as an example. The chances are, you will never be able to prevent your child from hearing curse words, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. It is not your children knowing those words that are the problem; it is them saying them.
If you can educate your child to learn not to use inappropriate words, you don’t need to worry about them occasionally hearing one.
YouTube can be approached similarly. Properly educating your child on things like YouTuber’s lives not being as perfect as they look on screen, and not doing dangerous things just because a YouTuber “challenged” you to, will significantly reduce the causes for concern when your child watches YouTube.
Set up a Children’s Account
Google allows you to create accounts for your children that are restricted in several ways to prevent your children from seeing content they shouldn’t be seeing.
One of the main ways it limits YouTube is by preventing access from that account to the full YouTube platform, instead of taking them to the YouTube Kids platform. It is worth noting that the YouTube Kids platform is not available in-browser, so your child will not be able to watch YouTube on a full computer. They will be able to watch it on a phone or tablet, of course.
This account will automatically convert to a full account when your child turns thirteen, so be sure to put the correct date in. It’s also worth reiterating that you cannot choose to allow your child full access to YouTube. The only way a child’s account can access the full platform is if that child turns thirteen.
Create a Family Account
The overly restrictive nature of YouTube children’s accounts may be perfect for younger children, but many parents feel it is too restrictive for older children of around ten years old and up. Still, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to give their children the keys to the Internet.
In these cases, consider creating a single YouTube account that is used by the whole family.
This will allow you to keep tabs on what your child is watching while still allowing them more freedom to access YouTube.
One of the worst parts of YouTube from a mental health standpoint is the comments.
YouTube automatically disable comments on videos made for children, but you can also choose to disable them on any video you upload. If your child starts uploading content—either contributing to an adult-run channel or running their own channel after they have turned thirteen—consider disabling the comments if YouTube doesn’t do it for you.
Much of the negativity on the platform comes from the comments section, and there is little to be gained from exposing your child that.