As the main portal for video content online, YouTube is a regular haunt for youngsters who want to keep up with the latest trends, music and vloggers. But, how can you ensure that the content they watch is appropriate for their age? We show you how to set up the built-in parental controls.
If you're worried about the general content they come across online, then consider dedicated parental control software such as Qustodio. This allows you to set age-appropriate filters, block certain apps or sites, and even create a schedule for how much time your children spend on their devices, with a curfew to ensure they can't sneak their phone into bed and watch Netflix all night.
Take a look at Best parental control software for more details on Qustodio and several other excellent services.
Have you tried YouTube Kids?
Depending on how old your child is, you might find that the YouTube Kids app for iOS and Android is a better option than the full blown site, as the content is only intended for youngsters, mainly in the pre-school bracket.
For the most part it’s a good service, but there have been problems over the years with strange videos appearing that include weird and sometimes disturbing images, the most famous being where a fake Peppa Pig has a rather nasty trip to the dentist.
Google has been diligent in finding and removing these videos, but it’s a constant battle against what can only be described as deeply troubled people.
As we say, for the vast majority of content it’s all happy songs and colourful characters, but you should still supervise your kids' viewing so that you can head off any unwanted surprises.
Read our Is YouTube safe for Kids? article for more details.
How to use YouTube parental controls
The main way of filtering videos served up on YouTube is via a feature called Restricted Mode. Google describes the way the setting works as follows;
'This helps hide potentially mature videos. No filter is 100% accurate. This setting only applies to this browser.'
To activate Restricted Mode you’ll need to open a web browser and navigate to the YouTube site. Log in with your account and then click on your account icon in the top right corner of the window.
From the drop down menu that appears, you’ll see Restricted Mode: Off at the bottom of the list. Click this.
The next window will contain a message explaining the nature of the mode and the option to turn it on. Do so by clicking on the switch labelled Activate Restricted Mode.
The message also warns you that the mode is only active on this particular browser. So, if you want your children’s device to be secure, you’ll need to repeat these steps in all the browsers they use.
Enabling Restricted mode on mobile devices
If your child watches YouTube on their tablet or smartphone, then you’ll need to make a few similar adjustments to the YouTube app settings.
Open YouTube and tap on the account icon in the top right corner. From the box that appears, select Settings. Next, you’ll be presented with a page of options. Tap General, then scroll to the bottom of the next list until you find Restricted Mode and tap the switch to turn it on.
To be super safe, go to all the browsers on the device and repeat the steps listed above for the YouTube website.
That’s it. Hopefully now your little ones will be keep safe from some of the more extreme content YouTube has to offer. Of course, there are no guarantees, so be sure to limit the time they spend watching content and possibly have them in the same room as you when they do so. That way you’ll be able to head off any undesirable programs that the filters may miss.
If you want other ways to entertain your children on their device then check out our Best Kids apps chart for the pick of the current crop. There’s also Best Kids’ phones and Best Kids’ tablets if you’re looking to upgrade to a dedicated device.