The Safe Parent's Guide to YouTube

The YouTube logo on a computer screen

YouTube is a treasure trove of video content for kids. Whether they’re watching Peppa Pig, learning magic tricks, or doing kid yoga, the video sharing site has something for every child, no matter their age.

However, like any online platform, YouTube also poses safety risks to your child. In this guide, we'll explore some safety concerns kids may face on YouTube and offer tips for managing your child's YouTube experience to ensure they stay safe and happy online.

YouTube Safety Risks for Kids

YouTube makes it easy for children to watch one clip after the next, increasing the chances that your child may accidentally stumble upon inappropriate videos, including violent or sexual content, profanity, or hate speech. 

The comment section on YouTube can also pose a danger to kids — it is often unmoderated and can be a breeding ground for cyberbullying and other harmful content. That’s why it's crucial to monitor your child's YouTube activity and teach them how to report and block users who engage in inappropriate behavior.

Unfortunately, harassment and cyberbullying are common on YouTube, and kids may become targets of online abuse. As a parent, it's important to be aware of the signs of harassment and to teach your child how to recognize and report this behavior. You also want to monitor your child's activity on the platform and to have open and honest conversations with them about online safety and responsible behavior.

Finally, letting your child post videos on YouTube also carries risks, including potentially exposing them to online predators. 

For more info, check out our article on How to Talk to Your Children About Sharing Personal Information Online.

Managing Your Kids’ YouTube Experience

The good news is, there are several ways to manage your child's YouTube experience to make it a safe and enjoyable online space.. 

  1. Parental controls: The quickest and easiest way to keep your child safe is to make use of YouTube’s parental control features. The site’s “supervised experience” feature allows parents to curate their child’s experience. This mode allows parents to choose from three different content settings, depending on their child's age and maturity level. Parents can also manage their child's search and watch history and enable or disable their child's ability to like, share, and comment on videos. The supervised experience feature is designed to help parents monitor their child's activity on the platform and ensure they are only exposed to suitable content. 
  2. Kid-friendly app: YouTube Kids is a separate mobile app aimed at children under 13. The app is simple to use with age-appropriate videos, channels, and playlists. YouTube Kids also makes it easy for parents to monitor and control their child's viewing experience, including limiting screen time, disabling search, and setting a timer to remind kids when to take a break.
  3. Viewing restrictions: YouTube Restricted Mode allows parents to filter out any mature content from their child's feed. This mode uses community flagging, age restrictions, and other signals to identify and filter out potentially harmful content. Keep in mind, Restricted Mode may not catch all inappropriate content, so it’s important to still keep a close eye on what your child is viewing on YouTube. 
  4. Monitoring apps: Third-party monitoring apps like BrightCanary can help parents monitor their child's activity on YouTube, flagging concerning content and alerting parents when their child has been exposed to anything harmful. Monitoring tools are a simple and effective way to keep your child safe online. 

The Bottom Line

YouTube can be a wonderful way for your child to explore their interests and learn new things. But as with any online space, the platform carries safety risks. Fortunately, with a bit of planning, you can keep your child safe while allowing them to take advantage of all the site has to offer. 

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