Kids love YouTube. From toddlers glued to Peppa Pig clips to tweens hooked on gaming hacks, it’s no surprise YouTube is the world’s second most popular website, ensuring many parents have a little YouTube addict or two at home.
But it’s not without its problems. Children commonly stumble across age-inappropriate content on the app and recent reports suggest that obscene or abusive material could be just a click away. As NPR reported this month, some videos even use familiar characters to target kids with intentionally disturbing content.
While YouTube claims to be working to clean up kids’ content on the site, monitoring kids’ usage is left to parents – and it’s no easy task.
So how can you keep your children safe while they browse their favorite channels? In addition to keeping an eye on what they’re watching – or better yet, watching it with them – consider these tips. Have something to add? Tell us in the comments.
1. Use YouTube Kids
YouTube Kids is geared toward younger children and offers what the site calls “a safer online experience for kids.” It’s a separate app that’s available on Google Play and the App Store and it offers family-friendly features like kid profiles, a timer and the ability to block certain videos or turn off “search.”
2. Make sure you’re signed in
Make sure the devices your kids are using to watch YouTube are all signed in to a Google account you can monitor. You could even set up a “family account” for this purpose, Yahoo Finance suggests. Then visit the “History” tab to regularly review what your kids have been watching.
3. Use ‘Restricted Mode’
You’ll find this option in the settings menu. According to YouTube, “Restricted Mode hides videos that may contain inappropriate content flagged by users and other signals. No filter is 100 percent accurate, but it should help you avoid most inappropriate content.”
4. Screen videos in advance to make a safe playlist
If your preschooler loves YouTube but can’t navigate it safely, spend some time identifying appropriate videos and add them to a playlist so they’ll be easily accessible without a new search. You could also download an app like iTubeList where only playlists are accessible, Engadget recommends.
5. Don’t allow uploading
Kids could face even greater risks on YouTube by uploading their own content. In addition to the risk of sharing identifying information with the world, some experts have suggested being on YouTube could lead to bullying or even psychological harm. If you do allow your child to start a channel, consider these safety tips.