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Why YouTube Videos “Made for Kids” Have Restricted Features

A YouTube logo

If a YouTube video is “made for kids,” it now has restricted features—even for adults. You can’t play “made for kids” videos in the miniplayer, save them to a playlist, or even like or dislike them in YouTube Music. Here’s why.

COPPA Explained: Why Is YouTube Doing This?

YouTube made this change because of the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act. COPPA is a law from 1998, but Google paid $170 million to the FTC to settle allegations it didn’t do enough to comply with COPPA in 2019.

Now, Google is stepping up compliance. If YouTube considers a video or channel “made for kids,” it will restrict many features for that video or channel. Even if you’re an adult, you won’t be able to use a variety of features while watching one of these “made for kids” videos.

These changes are designed to protect children 13 and under. For example, Google has removed features like comments and donations on children’s videos.

What Is a “Made for Kids” Video?

The FTC sets the guidelines on which videos are “made for kids.” Here’s how Google explains it:

According to the FTC’s guidance on the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA), a video is made for kids if:

  • Children are the primary audience.
  • Children are not the primary audience, but the video is still directed to children based on factors such as the subject matter of the video, whether the video has an emphasis on kids characters, themes, toys or games, and more.

YouTube expects video publishers to flag their channels and videos as “made for kids” if these rules apply. YouTube may also use viewer reports and machine learning algorithms to identify videos made for kids.

In other words, video publishers manually mark some videos “made for kids” when they’re uploaded. YouTube will automatically mark some videos as “made for kids” without a publisher’s input, too. It isn’t entirely up to content creators or channel owners whether their videos are flagged.

What Features Are Restricted?

While some of the restrictions like disabling comments on children’s videos makes sense, other restrictions seem strange when applied to everyone. As Android Police points out, these rules “fail to recognize that videos “made for kids” can appeal to both kids and adults alike,” making the user experience worse for adults on such videos.

You’ll notice this when you start trying to play a “kids” video and shrink it to the miniplayer. You’ll see a message saying “Miniplayer is off for videos made for kids.” To watch the video, you’ll have to watch it in full-screen mode. rather than going back to the search results or browsing YouTube while watching that video.

The "Miniplayer is off for videos made for kids" message in YouTube's iPhone app.

You also can’t tap the “Save” button to save the video to a playlist or to watch later. The “Save” button appears grayed out on such videos, and you’ll see a “This action is turned off for videos made for kids” message if you tap it anyway. You can still download a video for watching offline if you have YouTube Premium, but you can’t save it to a playlist.

The "This action is turned off for content made for kids" message while trying to save a video to a playlist in YouTube's mobile app.

RELATED: How to Use Watch Later on YouTube

In YouTube Music, you can’t like or dislike a song if it’s “made for kids.” You can’t even leave the Now Playing screen in YouTube Music while a “made for kids” song is playing, as you can in competing paid music-streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Android Central accused Google of “breaking” YouTube Music for many people with these changes.

That’s just how it is, and there’s no way around these restrictions at the moment. Even if you’re an adult, you lose access to these basic YouTube features while watching videos or listening to songs that might appeal to children under 13.

Here’s the full list of features that aren’t available on “made for kids” videos, from Google:

  • Autoplay on home
  • Cards or end screens
  • Channel branding watermark
  • Channel Memberships
  • Comments
  • Donate button
  • Likes and dislikes on YouTube Music
  • Live chat or live chat donations
  • Merchandise and ticketing
  • Notification bell
  • Personalized advertising
  • Playback in the Miniplayer
  • Super Chat or Super Stickers
  • Save to playlist and Save to watch later

And, if a channel is considered “made for kids,” these features aren’t accessible on the channel:

  • Channel Memberships
  • Notification bell
  • Posts
  • Stories

YouTube began implementing these restrictions on January 6, 2020. Google still recommends parents give their kids the YouTube Kids app, but these restrictions apply even to “kids” videos in the main YouTube app for iPhone, Android, and iPad and on the YouTube website.

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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