Parent's guide: Making YouTube safer for your kids
It’s hard to believe that it’s been only 12 years since the launch of the world's largest user-generated, online video sharing platform.
Owned by Google, YouTube is ranked second on Alexa.com's list of the world's most visited websites.
There's no denying its influence, and with the rise in popularity of video learning, it can also be an incredibly useful educational resource.
According to YouTube statistics, they're reaching more than a billion users every day, and it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine that your kid could be one of them.
Who can resist the pull of being able to watch whatever you want, when you want, particularly during the holidays?
Downloading the YouTube Kids app is an excellent way of making viewing safer but — according to YouTube's own word of caution — it’s not 100% reliable.
Here’s how you can bump up viewing safety for your YouTube watching kids.
1. Make use of the playlists feature
Creating playlists of content you find appropriate is a great way to keep viewing PG.
Sign in to your account, and click on the menu icon (those three lines next to the YouTube logo) in the top left corner of your homepage.
Find and click on the 'My channel' tab. You'll find the 'New playlists' tab on this page.
This is helpful but (as mentioned) is no guarantee that the odd unwanted video could find its way onto the suggested videos list.
Here's an explainer video for how to do this on your phone:
2. Do away with specific channels
Blocking entire channels can really help cut down on age-restricted content that may appear when a video ends.
Check out this video for a detailed explanation on how to do this in both Chrome and Firefox.
3. Enabling YouTube's Restricted mode
Enabling YouTube's Restricted mode is the simplest way to filter out unsuitable content.
To do this, scroll to the very bottom of the YouTube homepage and find the 'Restricted mode' tab, the default mode is set to 'off'.
The restricted mode feature can be enabled with or without an account but you'll only be able to lock the mode when you sign in.
It bears repeating that even though changing the mode will make a big difference, it won't filter out absolutely everything.
Have a look at this how-to video for step-by-step instructions on turning the Restricted mode on for both desktop and mobile:
- Also read: Our 3 favourite parenting YouTube channels
4. Block inappropriate ads
Advertising content may also include the kind of visuals you do not want your child to see.
Blocking these is quite similar to blocking channels; you'll need to download an extension. It's a simple process regardless of whether you're using Chrome or Firefox.
Find the Menu tab in the top corner of your browser (this could be either three lines or three dots depending on your PC). Find and click the ‘More tools’ tab, here’s where you’ll find ‘Extensions’.
A new page will load when you click the ‘Extensions’ tab. Scroll to the bottom of this new page in order to find and click on the ‘Get more extensions’ tab.
You’ll then be taken to the Chrome web store. Type the words ‘ad block’ in the search bar — which is in the top left corner of the Chrome web store.
A list of Extension options will appear, here’s where you’ll find the 'Adblock for YouTube' Extension.
Clicking on the ‘Add to Chrome’ tab will run the Extension, a confirmation pop-up will appear, which you’ll also need to click on.
A new pop-up will appear if a restart is necessary.
You’ll want to watch a YouTube video to check if it was successfully installed.
In Firefox, the term ‘Add-ons’ replaces ‘Extension’, and instead of the Chrome web store, you’ll be using the Firefox add-on market.
Here's how you can block ads on your mobile device:
- Also read: Internet safety for kids
5. Watch with your child
Ultimately, these guidelines cannot replace good old fashioned parental guidance.
Watching content either with your child, or in close proximity, is the best way to ensure that your kids aren't exposed to the kind of content that may disturb their young minds.
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