With Google’s recent troubles with the U.S. Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and agreeing to refund back $19 million for unauthorized IAP’s by children, it is clear to see the importance of controlling your child’s ability to surf the internet. One of the main reasons Google were found culpable by the FTC was they did not do enough to ensure that children could not access unauthorized content. However, the Play Store is not the only area of the internet which children can access content they are not supposed to or their parents would not want. Similarly, YouTube is also another avenue to which parents are becoming increasingly worried. Generally speaking, YouTube can be just as dangerous to children as the Play Store although for different reasons. Instead of downloading costly IAP’s, children on YouTube are constantly susceptible to less than desirable content and certainly content their parents would not allow their children to watch on the TV. But unlike the TV in which the parent can see and change the channel when something untoward is playing how can a user effectively control their child’s actions on a tablet. Especially if the child is using the parents tablet which (again thanks to Google) keeps users logged in to apps like YouTube.
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Well this is where the new HomeTube app comes in to play. In short this app is designed as a means to control the flow of YouTube content coming through a user’s tablet or phone and with a specific emphasis on protecting YouTube’s younger viewers from older orientated content. HomeTube is simply a third party YouTube client (basically not affiliated with YouTube) which only makes available content deemed appropriate. Once downloaded, the app initially creates a pre-selected list of content which should be suitable for younger viewers. Parents do have the ability to further customize this list to their particular taste and liking ensuring all content is suitable for their child however this feature is only available as a $0.99 IAP. Additionally, on the Play Store listing the developer does advise that HomeTube can actually be set as a home screen replacement. If you are running Android 4.2 or higher you can literally set a new profile for your child which when selected launches the HomeTube launcher and subsequently only the HomeTube app will be available to the children. They won’t have access to your other apps such as email, Play Store and most importantly YouTube.
It is worth noting that the developer also does state a disclaimer that HomeTube will not stop “well-versed children” from accessing the settings or changing back to YouTube and instead this seems more intended for much younger children. Either way, if safety and especially in regards to YouTube is an issue for you then it may be worth checking out HomeTube.