YouTube's New Teen Safeguards Limit Specific Video Recommendations

In 2021, YouTube testified before the U.S. Senate over child-safety concerns. Now, two years later, the Google-owned company is implementing new in-app content safeguards aimed at teens’ well being and mental health.

YouTube has reworked its content-recommendation approaches and “take a break” reminders, while incorporating expert-backed crisis-prevention resources directly into the platform.

“These updates are designed to help teens navigate their growing individual interests, while putting their safety, privacy, and well being first,” the company wrote in a blog post.

YouTube has worked alongside its Youth and Family Advisory Committee to identify certain video categories that may have a detrimental effect on younger viewers when viewed in repetition, such as content that “compares physical features and idealizes some types over others, idealizes specific fitness levels or body weights, or displays social aggression in the form of non-contact fights and intimidation.”



While some of these videos may be harmless when viewed once, they could easily become problematic as the platform's recommendations algorithm pushes related content their way.

This is why YouTube says it will begin by limiting the repeated viewing of these videos in the U.S. with more countries to follow in 2024.

The app is also updating its “take and break” and “bedtime” reminders for users under 18 years old by making them appear more often and   “more visually prominent” as full-screen takeovers across both YouTube Shorts and long-form videos. By default, “take a break” will pop up every hour.

Similarly, YouTube is expanding its crisis resource panels into full-page experiences, which will appear whenever viewers are exploring topics related to suicide, self-harm, and eating disorders.

Links to third-party crisis hotlines and other suggested prompts steering them toward “self-compassion” and “grounding exercises” will be one click away, the company says.

To help ensure these measures are based in research, YouTube has partnered with the World Health Organization (WHO) and an affiliate of Common Sense Media, Common Sense Networks, which will aid YouTube in producing educational resources for parents and teens focused on developing safe online habits, creating empathetic content, and how to best approach commenting, sharing and other online interactions.

YouTube's decision to highlight teen safety on its platform comes one week after competing tech giant Meta was singled out by dozens of states in a massive lawsuit accusing the media company for knowingly releasing features that promote harmful behaviors, especially surrounding disordered eating content targeting teens and younger users of Facebook and Instagram.

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