YouTube has revolutionized how we consume videos; we can learn how to fix our dishwasher, check out a new city, or see a new music video all from YouTube. But is it safe for kids? We can make YouTube safer for kids with a few tips.
Since anyone can create whatever content they want, it’s relatively easy for kids to stumble on inappropriate content. And even content that seems appropriate may have language or themes that aren’t appropriate for all kids. More insidiously, in recent years YouTube’s algorithms have begun driving viewers to longer and more extreme videos that can lead to dangerous content.
Should parents allow YouTube?
This is really up to individual families. YouTube videos generally have less oversight and aren’t being created by central institutions like television shows. On the other hand, they can allow us to show our kids very specific and niche things that they wouldn’t be able to see otherwise. For a little kid who is fascinated by trains, it’s great to be ale to watch a YouTube video of a Tokyo train station! And believe it or not, we can make YouTube safer for our kids!
Should your kids use YouTube or YouTube Kids?
You may have heard about YouTube Kids, which is a kid-specific version of YouTube. It isn’t perfect but it does limit what your kids can see on YouTube. You can set up YouTube Kids to be more or less restrictive and it can be a great way to give them access to YouTube in a safer, controlled way, particularly for young kids. If your child is older, you may want them to have access to YouTube itself. This can also transition them from more “monitored” browsing to less monitored as they get older.
How to make YouTube safer for kids
If your child is watching YouTube videos and you want to control what they can/cannot see, the easiest way to do this is by blocking the videos or channels you don’t want them to see. If you want to block videos or channels completely (so that your child cannot access them in any way) you must either set them up with YouTube Kids or Google Family Link with a supervised account. The former is better for younger kids, the latter is better for older kids (but you can set up both for your child and decide which is a better fit).
If you don’t want to go to the trouble of setting those up, use the following trick to keep YouTube from suggesting accounts you don’t want your child to see. If your child is browsing YouTube through a TV app (such as on an Apple TV) you’ll need to follow these steps on a computer or mobile device using the same account that displays on your TV app.
To stop YouTube from suggesting videos from certain channels, do this (works for desktop or on mobile app):
- Find a video on your YouTube homepage made by a channel you don’t want to see. (You MUST do this from your homepage. You cannot search for a video, it must be suggested by YouTube)
- Click the three little dots in the lower right corner
- Select “Don’t Recommend Channel” (see below):
If you want to supervise your child’s YouTube experience but you do NOT want them to have a YouTube kids account (or they feel too old for one) you have another option: set them up with a “supervised” YouTube account. Giving them a YouTube Kids account or a supervised YouTube account via Google Family link are the best and most comprehensive ways to protect kids on YouTube.
But if you’re in a pinch, the above trick will help you keep your recommended videos a bit safer for your kids.