Is YouTube Kids Really Safe for Kids?
YouTube Kids is the kid-friendly version of YouTube. But is it really safe for kids? This is a common question among parents. Luckily, I have kids of my own and have researched if YouTube Kids is, in fact, safe for kids. I have some information – and tips – to keep your children safe on YouTube Kids.
When letting your kids watch videos, play games and listen to songs online, safety should be your first priority. YouTube Kids is pretty safe, but it’s best to be proactive and take some precautions. Setting up parental search and content controls should be done prior to your child’s little hands grabbing that smartphone or tablet. An adult should periodically be monitoring what the child is viewing, as well as checking the search history. And setting a time-limit for the child is always recommended. Setting, and enforcing, rules regarding any screen time is also highly suggested.
I know I just gave you a lot of information. But that’s okay. I’m going to break down all of this information and these tips so that you will be able to make an informed decision when asking yourself if YouTube Kids really is safe for kids. Keep reading and take a look!
How do I activate the parental controls on my child’s YouTube Kids account?
Activating the parental controls are simple. After you touch the lock icon at the bottom of the screen, touch Sign In. This will allow you to choose which account you’d like to use. Once you touch Send Parental Consent Email, you’ll check your email for the consent letter and the activation code. Enter that activation code into the app and you are free to change the app’s control and content settings to what you feel is best for your child.
What are the parental control settings?
The parental control settings give you, the parent, the ability to allow your child to search within the app or not. You have the ability to disable the search features limiting it to only those that have been verified as age-appropriate by the YouTube Kids organization. There is an option to restrict the “recommended” channels to ones that have been OK’ed by an adult or have already been viewed. You can also select “trusted channels.”
How do I set the control settings?
There are just a few easy (for parents) steps you’ll need to take to access the control settings. First, touch the Lock icon in the bottom corner of the app. Next, you’ll be asked to either solve a math problem, enter the numbers that appear or enter your personal passcode. This will give you access to the Settings menu. That’s it. You’re in and now in charge of your kid’s YouTube Kids app.
What exactly are the content controls?
YouTube Kids videos are aimed at Younger or Older kids based on their age, what they’ve watched and what they’ve searched for. There is an option to block videos when they appear or you can use the Approved Content Only setting. The Approved Content Only setting lets you, as a parent, decide what channels and videos you want to approve.
How do I set the content controls?
YouTube Kids doesn’t have specific content controls. But you can still approve or block content. Once the app is downloaded, log in with your Google account and access the Settings menu. Now you can set up profiles for your kids. Each kid can have their own avatar and passcode (don’t worry, parents still have full access to each profile). The app automatically defaults to the Younger version, the fully restricted version of YouTube Kids, but Older can be selected to give a little less restricted version of the app.
Younger and Older Content Settings
The Younger content setting is geared at kids 8 and under. Most of the content includes videos, music and crafts for kids in preschool and early elementary school.
The Older content setting is designed for 8 to 12 year olds. The content here includes more music videos, games, grade appropriate material and more. Keep in mind that, with this setting, videos with violence, nudity, or offensive language may appear. The YouTube Kids team have done a good job with content for this app, but they’re still human, and still make mistakes. If this happens, report it as soon as you see it.
How do I report a video or channel?
Unfortunately, there’s a possibility of running across a video or channel on YouTube Kids that’s not even close to being appropriate for kids. We all know what I’m talking about. The videos with violence, nudity or offensive language, as previously mentioned, or anything else not appropriate for young viewers. Luckily, reporting these videos or channels is super easy. Touch More while in the video and Report. It’ll ask the reason for reporting and that’s it. The YouTube Kids compliance team will take it from there!
How to Monitor YouTube Kids Viewing History
One of the best ways to find out if YouTube Kids is safe is to simply monitor their viewing history. You’ll know what they’re searching for and watching on the app. If your kid is logged on using your Google account, all you need to do is go to YouTube.com. Because you’re the parent and they’re the kid, you always have the option of checking the history on the device itself. But there are always those kids that are just too smart for their own good and sneaky enough that they’ll go through and delete their history before the good ‘ol parents can see what they’ve been up to. In this case, I would suggest a reporting app. These apps will be able to tell you exactly how long your kid was logged into YouTube Kids, what they’ve searched for and all the videos they’ve watched.
What is the timer and how does it work?
There is inevitably going to be an argument every time I tell my daughter that it’s time to turn off the tablet. Her world comes to a halt and she forgets how to function. True story. However, the YouTube Kids app has a timer on it. Greatest invention ever. It automatically turns off and my daughter gets mad at the app and not me!
Setting the Timer
Setting the Timer is easy. While you’re in the Settings menu, select Timer, set the time limit and you’re good to go. Kid’s see a “Time’s Up!” message and it locks them out. To unlock the screen, touch the Lock icon in the bottom corner, select Timer, then End Timer.
What are the recommended screen time limits for my kids?
The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests limiting screen time to 2 hours a day for kids. They also say babies 18 months and younger shouldn’t have any screen time, citing possible developmental delays.
Rules and consequences of screen time
Ah, rules. Everyone has them, nobody likes them. But we are all expected to follow them. Especially kids. Before installing the YouTube Kids app on that tablet or smartphone, it’s best to have a conversation with your kids. Let them know ahead of time what they are allowed to watch or listen to. Also, be clear about their time limits. And then stick to those rules. I can tell you from experience, I am not the best at enforcing rules. My daughter whined and cried until I gave in and let her keep playing a few times and now it seems it’s an everyday battle. Learn from my mistakes, when that Time’s Up! notification pops up, let it mean Time’s Up.
Are there inappropriate videos on YouTube Kids?
The short answer here is probably. Again, the YouTube Kids content team isn’t perfect. If there are no settings or filters established, there is a chance of your kid seeing something he or she shouldn’t. Occasionally, nudity has appeared, as well as, violence. There have even been reports of a how-to suicide video. This makes it even more imperative that you make sure to set up the control and content settings as soon as the app is installed and before your kids get ahold of it.
Are there advertisements?
Yes, there are. The ads are required to be family-friendly and must go through a rigorous review process in order to meet the YouTube Kids compliance terms. The ads are typically short clips just before your video comes on.
However, there is always the option of purchasing the YouTube Red subscription for an ad-free experience.
How do I block or unblock content?
You’re signed in to the YouTube Kids app and see a video or channel that you’re not comfortable with your kid viewing. Simply touch More next to the video, choose either Block
This Video or Block This Channel and then enter your passcode or the numbers on the screen, depending on how you have the app set up.
To unblock videos or channels, go to Settings and Unblock Videos.
It’s okay to let your kids enjoy their YouTube Kids (and give you some peace!)
So, as you can see, YouTube Kids really is safe for kids. A little precaution on your part will go a long way in keeping it that way. Just don’t forget to change the control and content settings to what you are comfortable with. And if you do forget, that’s okay too, because the app automatically defaults to the Younger setting.