Google’s new YouTube Kids application has found itself enveloped in controversy after consumer groups voiced their concerns about the dubious way it advertises to children.
The groups will ask the U.S. Federal Trade Commission through a letter to investigate and scrutinize whether the app defies federal law.
According to CNN, the letter says, “The videos provided to children on YouTube Kids intermix commercial and other content in ways that are deceptive and unfair to children and would not be permitted to be shown on broadcast or cable television.”
The YouTube Kids app was released on iTunes and Android platforms. It features “family friendly” videos for younger audiences. The app also has parental control settings to monitor viewing time. However, groups such as Center for Digital Democracy, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and the Consumers Union find the app deceptive.
USA Today’s John Shinal raised his concerns about the app, saying, “YouTube’s new kids’ app suggests a complete lack of understanding about early childhood development and why young and impressionable minds need to be shielded from consumer brand advertising.”
He also voiced his opinion on Twitter.
Despite YouTube affirming that no food or beverage advertisements would feature in the app, the letter gives an example of a McDonald’s official channel that advertises the Happy Meal.
According to Reuters, a YouTube spokesperson said, “We worked with numerous partners and child advocacy groups when developing YouTube Kids. While we are always open to feedback on ways to improve the app, we were not contacted directly by the signers of this letter and strongly disagree with their contentions.”