YouTube safety and how to apply parental controls

We’ll start to tackle how to put some parental controls on YouTube and some brakes on children’s YouTube consumption.

Is YouTube safe for kids?

Many of us ask ourselves: is YouTube safe for my children to watch? The answer is broadly ‘yes’, but as with all forms of social media, there are issues to be aware of and policies to adopt that will help calm any fears.

What is the age restriction on YouTube?

YouTube is meant for users over the age of 13, but parents would have to admit that younger children are more than likely to have a look at videos. Supervision is the best watch word, and we’ll look at some of the tactics and tricks around making the viewing experience a bit safer overall.

It is worth remembering as well that Google (which owns YouTube) has strong policies on child safety and community guidelines in place to help protect creators on their channel.

Parental controls for children on YouTube

Ask any parent whose children have started to use YouTube and they’ll have a view on certain challenges that arise. It’s a thorny subject. The video channel provides near limitless entertainment, but with that comes the temptation to watch endlessly, or view content that may not be suitable. However, there are some helpful ways you can put restrictions on YouTube that can begin to tackle the problem.

For young people, YouTube can be very enticing, not to mention addictive. Especially as each video rolls on to the next one and kids can have a tendency to get drawn into video gaming and toy-related subjects, leading to many hours of viewing.


Why put restrictions on YouTube viewing?

YouTube users now upload more video content per second than you’d ever have time to watch, generating huge levels of interest from children of all ages. Unlike a scheduled TV channel, your child can endlessly skip to the next suggested video on YouTube, supplying a never-ending stream of distraction if left unchecked.

To combat these potential risks, screen time limitations might be the first aspect of YouTube restrictions to consider for your child. Just as serious is keeping young people away from harmful content, which might present itself too easily. It could be worth having a look at general child safety online, and we’ll give you some tips here on how to restrict content. Also, we’ll look at why you might want to consider YouTube Kids for smaller children.

How to set-up YouTube’s restricted mode

This will help parents limit access to explicit and mature content to shield children when they use YouTube on the iPhone or iPad app. The settings will apply to the app on that particular device only. Restricted mode filters out potential harmful content by using an algorithm to detect certain tell-tale signs of danger in the title and language used in the online videos.

It’s an automated system and Google themselves do admit such systems are not 100% perfect. They also have a team that will manually watch and check any videos that have been flagged as inappropriate by users. That said, restricted mode is worth using if you are looking for reassurance.

Before you get started all you need is a YouTube account – with email and password entered so that you are logged in. Then you are ready.

  1. Open the YouTube app and click on your username in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Hit ‘settings’.
  3. Then simply toggle the bar on ‘Restriction Mode’ so that it turns blue.

Limiting your child’s YouTube viewing

In one sense, parents don’t need any tools or digital apps to apply their own parenting style on time limits, but it’s not always easy. Having conversations and putting incentives in place with your kids to limit or stop their viewing can work.

Fostering a good, open relationship through listening and talking also helps. Within the app itself, there are two settings that can provide a pointer.

  1. Open the YouTube app and click on your username in the top right-hand corner.
  2. Hit ‘settings’.
  3. Use the first option ‘Remind me to take a break’.
  4. You then can choose a period of time to set for a reminder, say 30 mins or an hour.

Similar to this – and just below on the ‘settings’ area – there is ‘Remind me when it’s bedtime’ option, which we suggest could be a touch late in the day for switching off the channel. Research says digital devices should be turned off one hour before bed.

How to report illegal or inappropriate content on YouTube

Hopefully, this wouldn’t come up from your child’s viewing, but in case you did find a YouTube channel that contained offensive content – either in the comments or the video – here’s what to do:

  1. Sign in to YouTube
  2. Below the player for the video in question, click More.
  3. In the drop-down menu, choose Report.
  4. Select the reason that best fits the violation seen in the video.
  5. Provide any extra details that may help the review team make their judgement, including any timestamps of offensive moments or descriptions of the violation you’ve seen.

YouTube says their staff review reported videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Consider YouTube Kids for little ones

If your children are below 7 years old, a good way to expose them to more suitably themed videos is via YouTube Kids. The app features an algorithm which filters out grown-up material from the main YouTube site. It’s not 100% perfect, but Google have been increasing their efforts to make sure nothing untoward gets through.

The interface is fun to use and naturally focussed around kids’ shows and videos. You’ll find songs about tooth-brushing, as well as letters and numeracy, which provide an educational element for your kids as well.

It also features less of the aggressive advertising seen on the main site and overall offers a softer, altogether more child friendly way for younger ones to watch their YouTube videos.

For more information on setting controls across a range of devices, apps and platforms visit Internet Matters

Related articles