A coalition of US child advocacy groups wants the Federal Trade Commission to probe YouTube’s practice of generating “significant profits from kid-targeted advertising”, and wants parent Google subjected to a fine “in the billions of dollars”.

YouTube told The New York Times its core service is not for children under 13, which is why it is “invested significantly in the creation of the YouTube Kids app to offer an alternative specifically designed for children”.

However, it said it will read the complaint thoroughly and evaluate “if there are things we can do to improve”.

21 organisations, including The Center for Digital Democracy and the Campaign for a Commercial-Free Childhood (CCFC), said there is plenty of content for younger children on YouTube, including popular cartoons, nursery rhymes and toy ads.

The statement alleged Google makes money by collecting children’s details including location, unique device identifiers, mobile telephone numbers, and persistent identifiers, which are used to recognise a user over time and across different websites or online services.

Google collects this information without providing notice to parents and obtaining their consent, the statement added.

In the past, CCFC so campaigned against YouTube kids because it was “awash with food and beverage marketing that you won’t find on other media platforms for young children”.