The organizations argue that Google’s new app deceptively targets young audiences with advertising mixed in with traditional content.
Launched in February, YouTube Kids features branded channels managed by companies like McDonalds and Fisher-Price.
It reportedly blends child-friendly programming like cartoons, with ads that feature the same characters — a practice that is banned on US broadcast and cable television by the Federal Communications Commission.
The critics also argue that YouTube does not indicate when user-generated content, such as toy unboxing videos, are paid endorsements.
The coalition of advocacy groups will write to the FTC today asking it to investigate the matter on these grounds.
A YouTube spokesperson told Reuters:
“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.”