The recent Momo scare, while it may have turned out to be a hoax, certainly gave pause for thought about what our children are encountering while on the Internet. YouTube is the go-to place for most young Internet users – but are you totally aware of what they are watching and how to keep them safe? Here are 12 Things You Must Do To Keep Your Child Safe on YouTube.
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From informative, how-to videos on everything from hair and makeup styles to secret point-scoring in your child’s favourite online game, YouTube is the original home of the viral video.
While the trend to watch other children open blind bags or play with slime is baffling to parents, it is a particular favourite among young kids and tweens. The short nature of the videos and the variety on offer are particular draws as your child watches their favourite YouTubers or TV programmes.
However, for all the fun and entertainment that the video platform offers your child, it is important to keep your child safe on YouTube. YouTube is just like any other form of social media and could expose your child to content that is not appropriate.
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12 Essential Tips to Keep Your Child Safe on YouTube
#1. Set Up a Family Account
Rather than the kids logging in themselves, set up a family account. Then you can subscribe to channels that you have vetted and trust.
You can also save videos that you are confident they can watch safely and limit the amount of browsing around your kids do on their own.
#2. Turn Off Auto Play
One of the biggest issues with YouTube showing inappropriate videos is that your child can just go onto YouTube’s chosen next video, which you have no control over. So it’s a good idea to switch off Auto Play in order to keep your child safe on YouTube and viewing age-appropriate content.
When you are on a video, on the right hand side of the screen there’s toggle for Auto Play that you can turn off.
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#3. Turn on Restricted Mode
There is a filter called Restricted Mode that helps to limit some things, so to activate this go to your account settings page and toggle on Restricted Mode at the bottom of the page.
This will remain on for logged-in users on the same browser.
On your app go into Settings and toggle it on that screen.
#4. Use YouTube Kids
Rather than using the main YouTube app you can download the YouTube Kids app for Android and Apple. While not perfect at screening, it is at least an attempt by YouTube to make sure more age appropriate material is shown to kids.
YouTube Kids allows you to
- hand pick videos, channels and collections that your kids can see
- choose between “Younger” (under 8) or “Older” (12 and under) modes
- create up to eight kid profiles, each with their own viewing preferences, video recommendations, and settings
- block a video or channel that you don’t want your child to watch to remove it from all of your kids’ profiles
- report an inappropriate video quickly through the app
- access a Watch History to be able to keep tabs on what your kids are watching in the app
- use the timer function to limit how long kids can be on the app.
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#5. Set Up YouTube Kids Parental Controls
Once you have your YouTube Kids app installed you can set up YouTube Kids Parental controls:
- Open settings.
- Go to your child’s profile.
- Select “approved content only”. Then you can start picking videos and channels for your kids. When you have this mode set up, kids are not able to search for content on their own.
#6. Play on the Family TV
Instead of your child watching YouTube on a tablet, set it up to play on your family TV. Then you can keep an eye more easily on what they are watching on YouTube.
If you don’t have a smart tv that allows you to browse to YouTube then a device to cast to your TV like Chromecast is worth buying.
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#7. Set up a Playlist on Your Family YouTube account
For younger children, why not create a playlist (or selection of playlists) of videos that you are happy for your child to watch? You can do this on your family account.
- Start by finding a first video you want in your playlist.
- Under the video, click the “Add to” button. (The three lines and a plus symbol.)
- From the dropdown menu, choose, “+ Create new playlist.”
- Enter the playlist name e.g. Peppa Pig.
- Choose the channel privacy settings: public, unlisted, or private.
- Click “Create”
Then you can continue adding further videos to that playlist.
#8. Only Watch Official Channels
Are your children watching the official channels for the YouTubers, the programmes or brands they like? Make sure they are subscribed to the official channels and watch those, rather than unofficial random videos.
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#9. Consider Using a Third Party App
The Google Family Link is an app that you can use to check on and control your child’s YouTube activity. eSafely is a browser extension option for child-safe Internet browsing.
iKydz also comes recommended.
#10. Watch What They Are Watching
Take some time to watch what your child is watching. Don’t forget you can speed up videos.
- From the menu, select the Playback speed option.
- A second menu with playback speeds will open.
- Select a speed for video playback.
- The speeds 1.25x, 1.5x, and 2x will make the video play faster.
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#11. Talk to Your Child
As with all internet usage, have a discussion with your child about the family rules on going online. Depending on their age, agree the rules on:
- Security: Discuss sharing things on social media and that they understand about commenting on YouTube videos.
- Inappropriate things they see: Discuss what they should do if they do come across something on YouTube that makes them feel uncomfortable.
- Screen time: Define together what counts as screen time. For example, watching an educational YouTube video might not be extra time as you consider that part of learning, where watching YouTubers or Minecraft videos would be.
#12. Share Your Family YouTube Rules to Your Child’s Other Carers
If you have particular rules, such as your child should only watch through your family log in, then make sure your family and friends and other carers know the rules.
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Have you got any other tips for how to keep your child safe on YouTube? Leave a comment below and let us know – we’d love to hear from you!