How to Setup Parental Controls on YouTube on Browser, iPhone and Android

If you don’t know much about YouTube or have never heard of it, chances are you’ve probably just crawled out of a Neolithic rock. YouTube is the most popular video site and app there is. YouTube is to video as Reebok is to Crossfit. Now if you don’t know what Crossfit is either…uh oh, you had better get up to speed on a lot of things, especially on how your kids can purposely or inadvertently view age-inappropriate videos.

The YouTube app is so common that it often comes as preloaded app in many smartphones and tablets. YouTube is first and foremost a site that hosts hundreds of thousands of videos, many of which may be too provocative for young minds. Parents need to filter what content kids can access; so, let’s start setting controls on sites and apps kids are most likely to use…in this case, YouTube.


Ensuring a Kid-Friendly YouTube Site on Your Browser

Enabling Safety Mode

Safety Mode is YouTube’s feature that filters potentially age-inappropriate video uploads. Although a few “bad” videos may sneak through its guards on occasion; still, it is better than not having any filters. Enabling the Safety Mode will also activate SafeSearch, which shows only kid-friendly results from a typed-in search. For instance, if your kid goes searching for birthday cake ideas, he will probably never get to see videos of kinky cakes for mature celebrants with a green sense of humor.

To enable Safety Mode:

  1. Open your internet browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Explorer, etc.) and enter www.YouTube.com on the address bar to gain access to the site.
  2. Assuming you don’t have a YouTube account, sign in into one by locating the blue Sign In button (you can’t miss it)  on the top rightmost part of the page.
  3. Follow what it subsequently asks you to do to create your account.
  4. After you have created your account, YouTube will load again under your account name. Scroll way down to the bottom of the page where you will see an array of grayish buttons that allow you to customize your page. Look for the Restricted Mode button. 
  5. Clicking on the Restricted Mode button brings up two options: Off and On. Select ON to enable restrictions. Click on the Save button to keep your settings.
  6. In order to keep the Restricted setting from being toggled off by your curious child, you need to lock this setting in place. Directly under the On option, you will find fine print in blue as “Lock Restricted Mode on this browser.” Clicking on this will bring you to your sign in page.
  7. Sign in again with your password to lock the setting in place. Your child will not be able to change your restriction unless he figures out what your password is.

If your device has more than one browser installed, you may need to go into each browser and enable YouTube’s Safety Mode in each. In this case, make sure your child does not install his own browser where he can access YouTube in all its unlimited glory.

Setting Restrictions on the YouTube App

Unfortunately, computers and laptops are not the only devices capable of accessing YouTube. As previously mentioned, YouTube also comes as an app which can be installed on smartphones and tablets running Apple’s iOS or Google’s Android operating systems.

SafeSearch, however, is the only parental control offered on the app version of YouTube, unlike the browser where putting on the Safety Mode restriction immediately enables the SafeSearch feature. Still, better to have any filter than none at all.


Enabling YouTube’s SafeSearch on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch (iOS devices)

  1. Tap on the YouTube icon, a red square with a right-facing arrowhead.
  2. Sign in to your account.
  3. Once signed in, on the right top most part of the screen, locate three stacked dots to tap on. This brings up a menu with the Settings category.
  4. Tap on Settings to open up a submenu.
  5. Choose Restricted Mode Filtering. Then tap on the choice, Strict, to check this and enable the option.


Enabling YouTube’s SafeSearch on Android devices

Most Android smartphones and tablets usually come with the YouTube app pre-installed on them. To set the parental control, SafeSearch:

  1. Tap on the YouTube icon, a red square with a right-facing arrowhead, to launch the program.
  2. Follow the Sign In prompts if this is your first time to set up an account in YouTube.
  3. On the topmost right side of the screen, locate three stacked dots and tap on these to bring up a submenu with Settings.
  4. Choose Settings, and then tap on General, one of the subcategories under it.
  5. The General subcategory then opens further to more choices from which you need to tap SafeSearch filtering. The fine print description is pretty much self-explanatory: “Block videos containing restricted content from showing in search results.”
  6. The SafeSearch filtering menu gives you two choices: Don’t Filter and Strict. Choose Strict and the app’s good to go.

As YouTube app’s lone parental control feature, SafeSearch leaves much to be desired, you may be well advised to look for other apps which can lay further restrictions on the YouTube videos your child can watch. But, as a first line of defense, it does help a great deal in filtering out a lot of undesirables.


References: [1] [2] [3] [4]

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KidGuard’s sole mission is to protect your children online. Our team spends every waking hour thinking about how to bring awareness and inspire solutions on issues of cyber bullying, online predators, teen suicide, and childhood depression in the age of technology. KidGuard employs a team of researchers and writers to educate parents on solutions to digital parenting problems and also runs a popular child cell phone monitoring software to allow parents to stay involved in their child’s life online.

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