YouTube celebrated its 10th anniversary earlier this year. According to comScore, it is the top online video content website, with over 152 million unique monthly viewers.
Offering diverse content (everything from Video Games to Health & Beauty and Japanese cats), YouTube appeals to many different audiences – especially kids. In both schools and homes, it can serve as a valuable educational resource and source of entertainment; however, many genres of videos are not quite kid-safe.
Fortunately, there are a few “quick n’ easy” precautions parents can take to ensure YouTube safety. Here are four ways to keep kids safe on YouTube:
1) Turn on YouTube Safety Mode
YouTube Safety Mode is a kid-friendly option for filtering inappropriate or questionable content on YouTube. Parents can follow these simple steps to enable the filter. YouTube Safety Mode serves as a direct line of defense. It hides explicit content through community flagging, age-restrictions, and porn image detection, ultimately minimizing the risk that kids will stumble upon any unsavory videos or user comments.
Bear in mind that the option is both browser- and device-specific: for example, enabling it on Google Chrome will not automatically enable it on Mozilla Firefox. For a small monthly fee, some web filters and parental controls may offer the ability to enforce safe YouTube across all devices in the household.
2) Privacy Settings
Kids are at risk for more than just exposure to explicit content. Anyone who actively posts his/her own videos on YouTube is susceptible to mean-spirited internet trolls who post crude, harmful comments.
To prevent this form of YouTube cyberbullying, parents can implement YouTube Privacy Settings. This optional feature can block users and moderate comments (by removing specific comments or blocking anyone from commenting altogether), and can specify who is able to see a particular video. More specifically, YouTube offers the following video settings: Public, Private, and Unlisted.
In addition, parents can block advertisements and interest based ads, further filtering the content accessible to kids online.
3) For younger children, approve content in advance
Parents can research what content is age-appropriate for their child by screening or “favoriting” videos in advance of those long car rides. This way, they know exactly what their child is watching and can avoid accidental linkage to inappropriate content when they are unable to supervise them.
For parents who simply don’t have the time or are running out of ideas on what is considered “appropriate” for their child’s age group – Have no fear! Check out sites like Common Sense Media which provide reliable, detailed suggestions and examples for age appropriate media content.
Alternatively, parents of children ages 5 and under, can make use of YouTube Kids, a free app that makes available only a subset of pre-approved, kid-safe content on YouTube.
4) Get involved! Report inappropriate videos by ‘flagging’
All adults can play a part in making YouTube a more kid-friendly environment! If you find a video with inappropriate content, report it by clicking “more” and then “report” under the video window. This process is referred to as ‘flagging’ a video for moderator review. Fortunately, review of flagged videos occurs 24/7; YouTube makes this service a priority and is highly responsive to your report requests.
To learn more about implementing a safer YouTube and other parental controls, sign up for our parent newsletter below. Have other ways of making YouTube safe for kids? Please share your suggestions in the comments.