18 June 2019

    Megan Ellis

    How to keep your kids safe on YouTube

    Here are a few ways you can make sure inappropriate videos don't find their way into your child's YouTube feed.

    While YouTube is a great resource for finding entertaining and educational videos for free, recent scares have made parents warier about the content their children consume on the platform. Though some reports of harmful content have been exaggerated, it's nevertheless important to make sure that kids aren't exposed to inappropriate content. 

    Here are a few things you can do to keep your young children safe on YouTube.

    Parents control the YouTube Kids app

    Use the YouTube Kids app 

    The YouTube Kids app, which is separate to the main YouTube app, makes filtering content easier for parents. The app features only family-friendly content and filters out the mature content you find on the main YouTube platform. YouTube Kids allows you to create separate profiles for each child. These limited profiles allow you to filter content according to their age and interests.

    Create customisable, separate profiles on the YouTube Kids app

    Make sure to set up features and controls

    However, simply downloading the YouTube Kids app is not enough, since the content is filtered using AI. This means that inappropriate content can still slip through. So it's essential that you take the time to properly set up additional filters and restrictions.

    Usually, this requires you to sign in with your own Google Account to unlock more customisation features. For example, if your children are all preschool age, you should change the setting in YouTube Kids to show content for these ages. You can also adjust the passcode for parental control. By default, YouTube Kids uses simple maths calculations you need to answer to authenticate that you're a parent. But many primary school children can easily bypass this, so if you come across or know specific channels that include spam or inappropriate content, add them to the app’s block list.

    You can block and report inappropriate YouTube videos

    Curate and review content

    You can disable search on the app so that only YouTube Kids-verified content appears on their feed. You should also make sure to use channels that have proven quality and shows that your children enjoy.

    There are a lot of channels that use knock-off versions of popular characters to trick children into watching them (since many kids don't realise the difference). Usually, this is simply to gain views and advertising revenue rather than to get children to watch harmful content. However, this knock-off content is also not enriching or educational and is often created using automated software. The results vary, with the content sometimes becoming inappropriate or nonsensical. Rather be cautious and limit the app to playlists and channels you know and trust. Curate your own preferred channels for young children to watch and choose channels whose content you have seen and reviewed for yourself. And ask other parents for recommendations.

    Switch off search on YouTube

    It's not only your children who are susceptible to online scams. For tips on how to protect yourself online, click here.

    Header image by Tobias Albers-Heinemann from Pixabay 

    Megan Ellis