How to set up YouTube
When used safely and responsibly, YouTube provides children a wealth of opportunities to learn, stay entertained, create and play. However, with so much content available, how do you find the correct channels and videos? How do you ensure your child is safe while watching them?
It’s important to have a shared family account for YouTube so you can easily track what videos are watched and suggested. I recommend turning Restricted Mode on or, for younger children, setting up YouTube Kids.
Supervised Accounts are for parents who want to allow their child to transition from YouTube Kids to the main YouTube platform. Use the step-by-step parental settings guide to help keep children safe on YouTube.
What content does your child watch?
A successful approach in our house is restricting our children from watching certain YouTube channels. If they want to start watching a new one, we watch some videos ourselves first to vet the content.
Recognised brands are useful here with generally more rigorous standards in terms of appropriateness. However, at the same time, that might mean a more commercial experience.
Peacock Kids, Mother Goose Club, Talking Tom & Friends and National Geographic Kids are good examples of YouTube channels for children under 10.
Check out recent videos but also browse the channel’s back catalogue. YouTube algorithms often suggest these older videos for young viewers to watch next if they already watch the channel.
Tip: Subscribe to channels that you feel comfortable with. This creates a feed of safe videos for your children to browse and watch in the ‘Subscriptions’ area of YouTube.
What safety features does YouTube have?
YouTube is considered a search engine, video-sharing platform and social media platform all-in-one. It has a lot of features that support each type of content. However, it also includes settings to promote safety and wellbeing to keep children safe online.
- YouTube Kids: a separate app made for children under 13. It allows a safer and simpler experience for them to explore. The app also has a parent-supervised experience to help guide your kids on their journey. Check out the YouTube Kids app parental control guide for more information.
- Privacy settings – Under-18s can set privacy settings to make parts of their profile private and as well as making posted content private or public.
- Digital wellbeing – YouTube contains a variety of wellbeing tools. Users can turn off autoplay to limit endless scrolling. The platform also has the option to ‘Remind me to take a break’ and ‘Remind me when it’s bedtime’ to encourage users to take breaks. You can turn these features on in settings.
- Mature content or ‘Not made for kids’: content creators can include an age-restrict option on their content not made for viewers under 18. Personalised ads are removed on content made for kids on their ‘watch’ page. However, ads are still shown based on the context of the video. Monetised features are also removed.
- Trusted Flagger program: removes harmful content from the platform.
- Machine learning : their machine learning systems identify videos that may put children at risk. They also apply a few protection tools, such as restricting live features, disabling comments and limiting recommendations. YouTube also works with NGOs to combat child sexual abuse imagery (CSAI) by reporting this type of content to the relevant law agencies.
- Autoplay customisation on YouTube Kids – On YouTube Kids, parents can turn off autoplay features as well as erasing history to manage what kinds of videos children experience.
- Safeguards and education about commercial content – YouTube do not allow paid product placements in YouTube Kids as they do on the standard app.
- Reporting: when a video or channel is reported to YouTube, it is investigated. If it goes against their guidelines or policies, they will terminate the account in question. If they find any sexually inappropriate content featuring minors, they will also report the illegal activities to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
In all, YouTube takes keeping children safe online seriously.