The Trouble With Kids Video Apps

We created Jellies because as parents we felt let down by popular kids video apps. Those apps didn't take our children's safety seriously. They didn't give us control over what our children watch. Even worse, those apps bombarded our family with ads, commercialism, and other low-quality, inappropriate content.

Today's kids video apps fail to provide a secure and educational environment for our children. Here's a glimpse at some of the serious problems with popular kids apps, and why many parents are looking for alternatives.

Problem 1: Your Child's Safety Depends on Algorithms

When you install a kids video app, you expect your child to be safe while using it. Unfortunately many kids apps don't take your child's safety as seriously as you might think. Some well-known kids apps use algorithms to sort through scary, inappropriate content. Algorithms, however, don't work.

Families realized the danger of relying on algorithms last year when thousands of scary videos slipped past YouTube's safeguards and onto their children's screens. Although YouTube tweaked the way they police video content online and in the YouTube Kids app, inappropriate videos are still getting through to kid viewers. Even today, YouTube Kids warns parents:

“While our automated filters try to keep out content that is not appropriate for kids, we don't manually review all the videos. It's possible your child may find something you don't want them to watch.”

This automated, reactive way of policing content allows video publishers to continue to find ways to trick the system. We believe the best way to ensure kids are watching content that's safe is by manually reviewing every video before children get a chance to see it. That's why our curators watch every single video in Jellies at least once to make sure it meets our strict standards.

Problem 2: Recommended Content is Very Limiting

Many of the recommended videos in kids apps focus on unboxings, child celebrities, and other low-quality messaging. For example, often the first videos your child encounters in YouTube Kids are highly commercialized Ryan ToysReview videos and addictive Family Finger songs. If you want your child to watch something with more substance, you need to search for it.

What's more, kids video apps use algorithms to recommend videos based on your child's viewing history. Instead of introducing children to a variety of quality videos and encouraging them to explore new topics, your child only sees more of the same. This makes it even more challenging for your child to find a variety of new, high-quality content if toy play and surprise egg videos dominate their viewing history.

We don't allow unboxings, child celebrities, surprise eggs, and overt commercialism in Jellies. Our human curators build every topic to teach children about the world around them and to inspire them to try new, fun, and creative things. Your child will ride on big trucks, dive deep under the sea, explore new countries and cultures, and learn to count, spell, and color by watching Jellies videos. We believe that's what kids apps should be all about.

Looking for a better kids video app for your child? Why not try Jellies?

Problem 3: Parents Aren't In Control

Other kids video apps provide very limited parental control options. Either the ability to control what your child watches within the app doesn't exist, or you have to take extra steps and give up personal information to access basic controls. The latest version of YouTube Kids finally includes the ability to block videos and channels. However, they lock this feature behind account creation, meaning it's only available to parents who create an account or connect their existing YouTube or Google account.

These basic parental controls fall short of keeping your child safe. They don't allow you to curate and create your own playlists for your child. Also, if your child stumbles across a video you don't want them watching, there's no way to remove that video from your child's “watch it again” history without deleting the entire viewing history. Even if you block that video, it still impacts what videos the app recommends to your child, suggesting more of the same content.

These kids apps put the onus on you to sort through all of the content in the app and remove what you don't like. Imagine trying to pick your way through the entire YouTube Kids catalogue to manually remove every single video and channel that's inappropriate, low-quality, scary, or just plain strange. It's a lot easier to browse and select the videos you want your child to see. That's the Jellies approach.

The Jellies app gives you the power to select which topics you want your child to access. We organize videos into categories, like dump trucks, ABCs, baby animals, nursery rhymes, and more. These topics are further divided into age ranges (2+, 4+, 6+, 8+) to help you find what's appropriate for your child. You can browse the Jellies topics and choose the topics you want your child to watch. We also provide the option to select all of the topics in an age range with a single tap. This proactive approach makes sure you know exactly what your child is watching in the Jellies app.

Problem 4: Ads and Commercialism

App creators don't always have the right motives. This is especially true for creators of kids apps. Ad revenue drives many popular kids apps, putting the focus on making money instead of educating kids or keeping them safe. If your favorite kids app includes ads, then the app's goal is to get your children to watch as many videos (and ads) as often and as long as possible. This approach encourages unhealthy, even addictive screen habits and behaviors in children.

These ads aren't always kid-friendly even though they're marketed to children. We've seen inappropriate ads for war and shooter games in popular kids apps as well as ads that are too scary for younger children. What's more, an ad revenue model rewards the publishers who get the most views. This encourages publishers to create kids videos that are addictive and satisfy algorithms rather than content that makes kids smarter or healthier. Some publishers make extra money on the side by promoting kids toys and brands. Many of the top YouTube channels for kids, for example, are thinly-veiled commercials in disguise.

Jellies, on the other hand, doesn't work off an ad revenue model. Our goal isn't to sell anything to your children. Instead we focus on the quality of our content, making sure our videos provide the right message, tone, and focus to teach and inspire children. We don't want your children to close the Jellies app and beg you to buy them a load of new toys.

How to Find the Right Kids Video Apps For Your Family

We've hit on some of the main downsides of today's popular kids apps, but there's a lot more to consider as a parent. Think about how apps use your child's data, for example, or whether the app aligns with your content expectations. Do the videos promote child celebrities or bad behavior? Does the app listen to parent feedback and take your suggestions to heart? To better understand how to select only the best quality apps for your family, check our our resource What Makes a Good Kids App.

We created Jellies because we worried about what our kids were watching in other kids apps. So far we think Jellies is a leap ahead of other apps, but there's still work to do. Learn more about what sets Jellies apart from other kids apps, and then reach out to us with suggestions on how we can help your family.