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Child-friendly YouTube app will let parents limit how long kids can use it for Reuters

YouTube will launch a new app next week designed for children to watch age-appropriate content on smartphones and tablets.

The free app will be available to download from 23 February and will feature a children-friendly design with big icons and minimal need for scrolling, according to Reuters, which has been given details on the app.

Parental controls will include the ability to set a timer to limit how much time the child spends using the app. It will be completely separate from YouTube's regular mobile app. It is understood that the app will be announced at a children's entertainment industry conference.

A YouTube spokesperson confirmed this information to Reuters.

The app will be the first of several launched by Google to bring its services to children, amid plans first outlined by it vice president of engineering Pavni Diwanji, late last year.

"The big motivator inside the company is everyone is having kids, so there's a push to change our products to be fun and safe for children," Diwanji told USA Today.

"We want to be thoughtful about what we do, giving parents the right tools to oversee their kids' use of our products," Diwanji said. "We want kids to be safe, but ultimately it's about helping them be more than just pure consumers of tech, but creators too."

It is understood Google is also working on children-friendly versions of Chrome and other services, too.

Keeping children safe online is a hot topic, and in late 2014 BT launched a joint initiative with the Marie Collins Foundation to improve the way police and other front-line services deal with cases of children being abused online. Tink Palmer, CEO of the foundation, told IBTimes UK that teaching young children about being safe online is "absolutely" the same as teaching them how to cross the road.

A report published by Ericsson in November found that by 2020, approximately 90% of children over six years old will have their own mobile phone, and that many of these will have access to the internet.