Digital Regulation of Children’s Content Has Not Discouraged its Creation

Since the beginning of 2020 YouTube content aimed at children has been regulated by a strict policy, which it was feared could affect the creation of new content, however, the evidence seems to show that these rules have not discouraged their creation.

How did the children’s content industry manage to adapt to the new regulation?

By: Gabriel E. Levy B.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in 2019, sanctioned YouTube for collecting sensitive and personal information of millions of minors without the due consent of parents (or guardians) without prior notification or warning, which in turn generated that google will earn billions of dollars in targeted and segmented advertising to minors[1].

An article published by the economic news portal EXPANSIÓN[2], assures that Youtube would have taken advantage of its popularity among children.

In this regard the chairman of the FTC, Joseph Simons, in a press release, assured at the time that:

YouTube touted its popularity with children among its potential corporate customers,” “But the company refused to acknowledge that parts of its platform were clearly aimed at children.” “The truth is that many popular channels on YouTube offer cartoons and lullabies or nursery rhymes, intended for viewers under the age of 13. There is no excuse for YouTube’s violations of the law,” concludes the FTC. FTC Chairman Joseph Simons

New York Attorney General Letitia James, who acted as prosecutor in the case, said in a statement that:

 “Google and YouTube unlawfully and knowingly monitored, tracked, and served personalized ads to young children just to continue to receive millions of advertising dollars.” “These companies have endangered children and abused their power,” New York Attorney General Letitia James[3]

Google had to adjust its policy

In order to comply with current regulations and comply with the agreements with the FTC and avoid future sanctions, from January 2020 Google began to require all its creators to identify the content they are uploading to the platform, clarifying whether it is aimed at children, The company stopped collecting information from minors, avoiding the insertion of Cookies in the user’s temporary files and programming the instruction in its algorithms not to track any user who consumes content for children or aimed at minors[4].

The policy was not only applied for the United States, but globally, as it was very difficult for Youtube to differentiate the distribution rule in a single region, so all creators, who in one way or another upload content aimed at children under 14 years of age anywhere in the world, must conform to the guideline. Youtube is currently seeking to expand this regulation not only to children but also to teenagers[5].

A positive impact

Google’s policy has served to ensure that YouTube is a much safer platform for children, which coupled with an efficient parental control system, has allowed many parents around the world to be more confident that their children are consuming age-appropriate content[6].

However, as anticipated in an article published in 2019, there was a notable fear on the part of the industry that the policy could affect the creation of new content[7].

Youtube is a platform that is sustained through advertising and the success of its model lies in the individual profiling and characterization of its users, thus allowing the advertiser to direct the advertising message efficiently and with the least possible waste, in turn Google transfers most of the profits from advertising to the content creator and they keep a portion resulting from the intermediation process.

Under this scheme, during the last decade, thousands of hours of new original productions have appeared all over the planet, most of them produced by independent animators and content creators, who thanks to the payment of advertising are motivated to upload new content, while large production companies have decided to share part of their productions on this platform.

With the new directive implemented by Google, the creators of children’s content created an important restriction to segmented ads and targeted to children, something that could affect the creation of these contents, however what the evidence shows is that finally the creators adapted to the new conditions and although at the beginning there was a decrease in their income, over time the creation and monetization was regularized without affecting them so directly.

Vince Commisso, CEO and president of 9 Story Media Group, commented that:

“In terms of television consumption, I don’t know if there is a better time than now. We contribute not only to the TV channels but we are also providers to the streaming platforms, and with all the consumption that is happening, this is the best opportunity to be marketing our content. In terms of licensing expansion and product development, we are having a more cautious plan, but I don’t understand it as a bad thing either, but there is always pressure to have the merchandising and licensing plans soon, close to the premieres of the productions.

Luckily we are now starting to see bigger audiences for our content, so it will serve as a push to get the licensing plan ready and in place to supply the demand.” Vince Commisso in Contenidos NEWS [10]

The 9 Story Media Group’s view is also shared by Jon Ollwerther, VPE Global Brands and Business Development at Genius Brands International, who said:

 “Having created a business model that can overcome economic challenges like the ones the industry is facing right now. Our writers are writing, our animators are on the job, and our business team is working in a very organized way[11]”.

In conclusion, the changes introduced in Youtube, as a result of the new regulations for the protection of minors, have not only managed to protect children’s privacy and against undue exposure of content, but it was finally shown that the regulation on the subject has not discouraged its creation, simply the industry sought strategies to adapt to the new circumstances and finally over time the creation of children’s content continues to be vigorous and growing.

[1] Google’s new privacy policy for children’s content.

[2] Article from expansió on the fine imposed on google.

[3] País de España article on the violation committed by Google.

[4] Google’s new child protection policy.

[5] youtube blog about the new policy of protection of teenagers