Tankee CEO: There's no place for kids to watch game content without worrying about the next video
Tankee co-founder and CEO Gerald Youngblood tells SuperParent about the gaming video app's origins, how they plan to filter content, and the meaning behind the word 'Tankee.'
A new video platform called Tankee launches in the iOS App Store today, allowing your kids to watch people play their favorite games in a family-friendly environment. Gerald Youngblood, CEO and co-founder, talks about how his son inspired him to create a place where kids could watch game videos without parents worrying about the content of the next video or related advertising.
Why did you feel the need to create a company like Tankee?
Over the past decade I’ve dedicated my professional life to building gaming brands and celebrating all of the creative, entertaining, and technological elements of gaming while being part of a broader gaming community.
I’ve dedicated my homelife to being a good dad. Over the past few years those passions have converged as my 9-year-old son grew up and started gaming. We would game together, cheer on esports teams, and watch gamers online. This led to the search for a safe space for gaming content. It was heightened when I realized that my son and his friends followed gaming influencers like I followed movie stars and basketball players growing up. However, there was no place for kids to watch the content without my wife and I worrying about the next video or an ad for a horror movie showing up out of nowhere.
Tankee co-founder, Dan Chiu, saw the same thing when spending time with his young cousins. We decided to see if we could do something about it. Together, we came up with the idea to create a safe digital destination for young kids and their caregivers to watch the best of these videos. We wanted to harness the sense of community and diversity that permeate gaming events and much of the gaming culture we love.
What kind of videos will kids be able to watch on there? How will kids be able to search for videos on Tankee?
The Tankee platform will showcase several types of gaming content as the creators use games as a basis for telling stories in the form of long-running scripted series, music videos, how-to videos, and playthrough videos. It’s a wide array of fun content showcasing the creativity and personality of the gamers themselves while allowing kids to experience the games themselves.
The great thing about Tankee is that all of the content is appropriate for kids 6-12 years old. Kids can select games and themes that interest them like Minecraft or ROBLOX or featured gamers they are fans of to then see their channel. We will be adding an open search feature in a future update, but the best part is the search won’t take kids to inappropriate content. It will be another way to navigate in the platform for age-appropriate gaming videos.
Does Tankee cost anything? If it's ad-based -- how will you ensure that the ads they see are age appropriate?
Tankee is a free platform and available from the App Store for iPad at http://bit.ly/tankeeprapp.
It’s important for us that Tankee reach households who deal with the perils of family-friendly content living right next to the entertainment or media consumed that may not be as appropriate for their young children 6-12 years old. We will have ads on Tankee, but we will treat the ads just like our videos and ensure that each ad is screened before appearing in the app. We have an amazing technology partner called SuperAwesome who is dedicated to building safe tech for kids under 13. We leverage their AwesomeAds platform to not only ensure that the ads are appropriate, but also to ensure the privacy of kids on Tankee. We do not track individual as they engage with the ads. Tankee was born post-COPPA and we have privacy protection in our DNA.
Other streaming channels are full of bad language and general toxicity — how are you going to ensure that kind of thing doesn’t happen on Tankee?
Our secret is having our team of real live humans source and screen each video before it is shown to our users. Our approach is similar to that of Netflix or Nickelodeon where we seek out the content for our audience and watch everything for both age-appropriateness and quality. Gaming content can be tricky to screen as beyond the dialogue and the game content itself, there are chat boxes and even screen names that we review carefully. This is not a situation where we can hand over the reigns to an algorithm and hope for the best.
And what about kid’s data? How does Tankee plan to keep that information safe?
We are living in a world where trust is not just about protecting passwords, we are generally tracked with every click. For adults, we have some idea of what we are signing up for, but for kids there’s a duty that we have to do more.
At Tankee, we embrace the fact that we’re launching in a wave of awareness about privacy. That’s why we get the parents involved at the very beginning. We also work with partners like SuperAwesome to randomize display names, so that personal information is not shared with other users. We also have no free-text chat or messaging. I am the dad of a 9-year-old, and I look at our users as though they are my son’s friends. They are part of the Tankee community, and we will do everything we can to keep them safe.
What kind of parental controls does Tankee have?
Tankee starts by having the parents set up an account for their kids and entering their email address to administer their parental account. We are building in time-limit functionality and additional fine-tuned controls for their child’s experience. Parents will even be notified if their child asks for additional access in future updates of the platform.
Gotta ask, Tankee — what does the name mean?
Tankee is a very common phrase in esports. The Tank is a position like an offensive lineman in football where their job is to protect other players. At Tankee, we are the first line of defense for kids and parents. We block out all the bad stuff and let them enjoy the gaming videos.
What gaming influencers will we be able to see on Tankee? Do you have some recommends?
We are very fortunate that the list is growing everyday. We have great gamers like NyteOwl, father of five, who brings incredible energy to family gaming. We have featured gamers like Thinknoodles, JeromeASF, and ThnxCya who have hefty followings already, along with up-and-comers like CutePlay and Speedy just to name a few. The games range from Minecraft and ROBLOX to Pokemon GO and Slime Rancher. ThnxCya even has incredible music videos as well. I recommend that everyone download the app and find their flavor.
I’ll give you one personal example from a parent’s perspective...the first day I came across NyteOwl’s content, I watched a video with him and his son. I was sitting beside my wife on the couch. She turned to me and said, “Are those tears?” I watched NyteOwl’s video where he took a moment to share a little glimpse into why Autism Awareness Month was special for his family and it touched me. He had me literally laughing, crying, and improving my game skills all in one gaming-focused video. That’s exactly why we do what we do.