Do your kids love watching YouTube?
Long gone are the days most kids wake up to Saturday morning cartoons. Now, one of the main sources of entertainment from our kids comes from YouTube.
As a mom/parent this can be very scary because, unlike television, there isn’t a rating system in place for YouTube. It is so easy for kids to run into inappropriate content. It’s very unnerving that it could only take them seconds to see something inappropriate on YouTube that can never be unseen.
Don’t get me wrong, I love YouTube! I also think there is a ton of great content on YouTube that is kid friendly. There are plenty of content creators that are very good about making appropriate content for kids and families. But, how do you find them and how do you keep your kids away from the content that isn’t so great for little ones?
How to Make YouTube Safer For Kids
While there are a some safety features within YouTube itself, before you start it’s great to go over some ground rules with your kids.
Communication is definitely the key when it comes to YouTube Safety. Make absolutely sure your kids know that their are a lot of inappropriate videos on YouTube and if they are unsure if they can watch something the best thing to do is ask a parent.
Here are some of the ways we keep our kids safer on YouTube:
- Set up a separate kids account with subscriptions: The first thing you will want to do is set up a separate kids account with subscriptions. This makes it easy for your kids to know what to watch and for you to track what they are watching.
- Use Bark Parental Controls– Bark is affordable, easy to use and can really help you monitor your kids activity on their devices including YouTube!
- Download the YouTube Kids app– There is a YouTube Kids app on IOS! You can also watch on TV or on a PC or laptop. It is great for little kids and really filters out a lot of the bad content. Things can always slip through the cracks so it’s still good to monitor your kids.
- Utilize YouTube’s parental controls: I will discuss this later and show you how to set up restricted mode on your device for your kids!
- Watch channels before you hit subscribe: This takes some diligence on your part. It takes a bit of time to fully scope out a YouTube channel and see if the videos they post are good for kids. You may find a kid friendly channel, but if they have had inappropriate videos in the past you might not want to risk your children being subscribed to them. I’ll discuss later in the post how I scope out kid friendly channels.
- Discuss YouTube safety with your kids: Discuss with your kids the dangers of YouTube. Come up with a set of ground rules and make sure your kids understand what they are.
- Watching Time: I like my kids watching YouTube during a time that I can step in and intervene if something inappropriate comes up. We don’t watch YouTube behind closed doors in our home or after lights out when it’s time to sleep.
- Watch with your kids: Take some time to watch with your kids and get to know the YouTube channels they like. This is a great bonding exercise and it helps open up conversation about what they are watching. It’s good to know what your kids like and what they are up to.
- Set up watching limits: I definitely don’t want my kids glued to YouTube all day. We usually don’t have screen/video game time until our chores and homework is complete. During the weekend we make sure and take breaks to get outdoors and do other activities.
- YouTube Red: One of the most difficult things to me about YouTube is keeping my kids safe from inappropriate ads. Sometimes an ad for a horror movie will come up and we won’t have time to stop it. YouTube has a paid ad free option that is helpful for this called YouTube Red. It’s ad free and comes with some extra videos you can watch sort of like Hulu or Netflix.
- YouTube Kids: There is a wonderful option for parents of preschoolers called YouTube kids. This app is available on Apple and Android devices. Since my son is a bit older there are some YouTuber’s he likes to watch that aren’t on the app. For preschoolers though, it cuts out worrying about dangerous videos and ads they may encounter.
YouTube Safety Ground Rules:
We have a set of YouTube ground rules in place that we discuss often. It’s important that we discuss theses rules often as a family, so everyone is on the same page.
Here are the YouTube ground rules we have in our home:
- Ask before subscribing to a new channel: I want to thoroughly check new channels to see if they are kid appropriate before I let them hit subscribe.
- No YouTube after bedtime: We have a no YouTube after lights out rule. Studies have shown that the light from screens can negatively effect rest. So, we usually let our son watch for 10 minutes after he brushes his teeth and before story time. Not only is this good for his health. But, it also gives me the opportunity to monitor what he watches while he is still awake.
- Ask a parent if you are unsure about a video: We often tell our son to let us know if he is unsure about a video. Sometimes YouTube will suggest videos to him that he is not subscribed to. Or he may feel unsure about something one of his current subscriptions has posted. It’s always best to ask before watching a video to make sure it’s okay.
- Ask a parent before subscribing to new channels: Like I said sometimes YouTube will suggest an interesting channel to subscribe to or maybe one of the channels he watches will suggest another channel. Our rule is ask before subscribing, so we have a chance to check out the content.
- Ask before watching: My son has a tablet that has YouTube password protected. He always has to ask me to put in the password before he watches. I like to be aware when he is watching so I can monitor what he is watching.
Assessing Kid Friendly YouTube Channels
So, how do you determine a channel is kid friendly and safe for your kids to watch?
That’s really up to you as a parent. I’m definitely a more conservative parent and I really don’t want my kids watching anything with strong curse words, too much violence, or suggestive material.
Keep in mind that in order to ensure your subscription list stays kid friendly you need to go back every 2-3 months to look over your channels again. I’ve seen kid friendly YouTube channels start posting more adult content out of nowhere. So, it’s good to stay on top of it.
Here are the guidelines I follow to make sure a channel is kid friendly.
- Read their about me page: Some YouTube channels are great about letting you know they are kid friendly within their about me page. They will state they don’t curse or post inappropriate material. This is a great start to finding a kid friendly channel, but it still may need some assessment.
- Watch the first 3-5 videos: Yep depending on how strict you are as a parent, this YouTube assessing takes some work. The first 3 minutes of a YouTube video may be kid friendly when all of the sudden they start cursing out of nowhere.
- Watch the last 3-5 videos: Go to the videos tab, to the last page of videos. They may be kid friendly now, but may not have started out that way. If your kids are watching their new videos chances are old ones will be suggested later. You may not want your kids running into these videos if they are inappropriate.
- Check out their ongoing series: A lot of YouTuber’s will post ongoing series. For example there is one YouTuber my son wanted to subscribe to. His videos are kid friendly, but he posts an ongoing series about Grand Theft Auto. This is a red flag for me to hit unsubscribe, even if the other videos are okay.
- Scan the titles of their videos: The titles of the videos often give you a good clue to the content your kids will be watching on their channel. Take some time to read through them.
Are you using YouTube Safety/Restricted Mode?
YouTube has a built in safety feature that blocks most offensive videos from being played. This is an awesome resource and safety net for parents.
Setting it up is super easy! On your PC you can find it at the bottom of your screen when you are on YouTube. Here is a screenshot of what you are looking for.
You are going to want to click on Restricted Mode or Safety Mode and turn it on. It will remain active on that device until it is turned off.
YouTube Safety Resources for Parents
YouTube has been really good about putting more resources in place for parents of all ages. Their safety resource page includes tips, resources, and tutorials for setting up restricted mode on your device.
Check out our list of Kid Friendly YouTube Channels Here.
Although these safety tips work really well on YouTube, they could technically be applied to all screen time as well. If your children are expressing interest in YouTube it’s good to be proactive in your efforts to keep them safe. Remember communication is key here. Make sure you and your children have frequent discussions about YouTube safety and rules.
Do you have any YouTube safety tips for kids? I would love to hear them in the comments below.
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