YouTube is no stranger to any of us. It's not just the most popular video sharing website but also the 2nd most popular website in the world! Almost anyone who has connected to the Internet must have watched a YouTube video at some point.
While YouTube may be screened for extremely explicit violent and sexual content, with 100 hours of video uploaded every minute, it's understandable that some videos may not get flagged immediately, or some may even stay under the censors.
Take for example, searching YouTube for 'dora the explorer'. I'm sure you'd be surprised if you came up withyour results.
So what are kids searching for on YouTube. If the names PewDiePie, EvanTube HD, Smosh or Good Mythical Morning doesn't ring a bell, well keep on reading as you have a lot to learn. These are some of the more popular YouTube channels that can boast of between 20 - 60 million subscribers each! These channels are relatively safe, showcasing the latest video games, viral videos, un-boxing and more; however, not all users may 'subscribe' to these channels and still have to go through the general search to get to the content they want.
If an adult can make typos when searching for a video on YouTube, kids can to.
As such, an innocent search for a music video, popular artist or new toy, can lead to search results with videos that were meant for an adult audience.
This is particularly notorious with music videos. The versions of songs that you hear on the radio are often edited for broadcast.
The original version of popular songs found on YouTube often contain explicit lyrics.
You'll be surprised to know how many artists have explicit versions of popular songs. The unfortunate situation here is that kids would need to type the name of the song followed by 'clean' or 'kids' to get the non-explicit version. This is a 'trick' not know or ignored by many.
So how can you safeguard your kids when using YouTube so that such content can be blocked?
The easiest method would be to have kids visit the official YouTube Kids Channel / App where there is no adult or explicit content
Or, if you can always follow these instructions listed below
Enable YouTube Safety Mode in Your Web Browser
Safety Mode is YouTube's current parental control offering.
Safety Mode attempts to filter YouTube search results so that only age appropriate videos are shown. It also prevents your child from viewing material that has been flagged as inappropriate by the YouTube community or has been marked for mature audiences only by the content's creator. Safety Mode is mainly meant to limit the content of an explicit nature. YouTube makes no guarantees that it will be 100% effective at screening out the bad stuff, but at least it's a start.
To Enable YouTube Safety Mode:
1. Log into your YouTube or Google account
2. Go to the YouTube.com site in your web browser.
3. Click on the "Safety" button near the bottom of the YouTube homepage.
4. Click the "On" button. If you receive a message after clicking the on button that says "You can lock the Safety Mode setting after you sign in" then you are not logged into Google / YouTube. Click the "sign in" link if needed.
5. Check the box that says "Lock safety mode on this browser".
6. Click the "Save" button.
After you've clicked the save button, the page you were on will reload and you will see a banner near the top of the page that shows a check mark with the words "Successfully enabled Safety Mode" next to it.
In order to prevent your child from just turning safety mode off, you must log out of your Google / YouTube account by clicking your username link in the top right-hand corner of the browser window. This will effectively lock the setting in for the browser you are using, preventing your child from disabling Safety Mode. You will need to repeat this process for all other web browsers that are on your computer (i.e. Firefox, Safari, etc).
Enable YouTube Safety Mode on Your Mobile Device
Safety Mode may also be available on your mobile device's YouTube app. Check the settings area of the mobile app to see if it is an option.
The process for locking the feature should be similar to the process above.
Will YouTube Safety Mode keep your kids safe from all of the junk that's on YouTube? Probably not, but it is better than doing nothing at all, and it has been my experience that it did manage to weed out some content that would not have been safe for my kids to view.
You can find out more about YouTube's Safety Mode from the YouTube Safety Mode Support Page.