YouTube is a popular place to learn more about a topic, view how-to videos, share information, or just have a laugh. (It is
quickly replacing Google as teens search engine of choice. Why read how to do something when you can watch a video to learn how?)
While the site is becoming a common destination for internet users, parents must remember that it remains a public forum whose target audience is diverse and whose content is not always appropriate for children. According to the YouTube Terms of Service, children are supposed to be 13 or older to use the site independently.
For those unfamiliar with the side, Common Sense Media provides a Parent Guide to YouTube as well as Advice for Parents: YouTube and Your Kids. The parent guide includes the following tips:
- Is there any way to make YouTube more kid friendly?
To make YouTube more kid friendly, you'll need a YouTube account and some time to sleuth out the good stuff -- but it's worth the effort.
- Log in, and search around for videos your kids will like.
- Click "Add to" (under each video) to include the videos in your "favorites" or "playlist."
- If you really like a video, consider subscribing to the owner's channel.
- When your kids log in (using the account YOU created), all they need to do is click your user name to find all of the videos you've saved for them.
- Bookmark your saved pages to make it even easier for your kids to go directly to your choices.
Register for an Account
The best way to control what content your kids watch is to register for your own account (channel). On your channel, you can add videos to a playlist, mark "favorites, and subscribe to channels you like. When you are logged in, visit your Video Manager to see videos you have selected. TIP: Bookmark the Video Manager page on your computer to bypass the YouTube homepage altogether.
Check Viewing History
If logged in, YouTube captures your account's viewing history. This can show parents what videos children have been watching. Use this list as a conversation starter. It can provide fabulous insight into your child's interests.
Turn on Safety Mode
Familiarize yourself with the YouTube Safety Center. Among the tools available for parents is Safe View. To enable safe view, scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page, click on the "Safety" drop down, and enable Safety Mode. If you are logged in to your YouTube Account, you will have the additional option to permanently lock the browser into Safety Mode.
AdBlock Plus is a browser extension (something you use when using an internet browser) that blocks a majority of advertisements - banner, pop up, and videos - on most websites, including YouTube. This is a helpful add on for general internet use!
QuietTube is a browser bookmark button that allows for YouTube videos to be watched without all the distracting comments, including the sidebar suggested videos and all those comments below the video. Note that this is not a safety setting, merely a way to play videos. Parental supervision is advised.
SafeShare.tv makes it possible to view YouTube videos without displaying the "related videos" or video comments. To use SafeShare.tv simply copy the url of a YouTube video and paste it into SafeShare.tv. This is a wonderful tool if you would like younger children to watch a video you found on youtube without the associated risks of additional content.
Turn Off the Lights
Turn Off the Lights is a browser extension that blacks out all content surrounding the video. "It provides focus to a video you are watching and makes everything around the video go dark. It works for all video sites such as YouTube, Vimeo,... and also on the social networking sites." This is another tool that parents might use to show children a video on YouTube without displaying additional content. Note that this is not a safety setting, merely a way to play videos. Parental supervision is advised.
YouTube Options is another browser extension that blocks out all content surrounding the video. "It gives the user the option to hide everything except the video, block in-video ads and annotations, create download links to all available video resolutions, and much more." This is yet another tool that parents might use to show children a video on YouTube without displaying additional content. Note that this is not a safety setting, merely a way to play videos. Parental supervision is advised.
Timer for YouTube
If your child views YouTube on an iPad, there is a Timer for YouTube app to limit the time they are allowed to spend watching videos on the site.
- Kids are supposed to be 13 to use YouTube independently
- Parent Resources from YouTube in partnership with Common Sense Media
- When YouTube safety mode is turned on and someone sends a video with content that is inappropriate for the safety mode, you cannot see that content.
- Browser add-ons are available to assist parents in hiding additional, possibly inappropriate, content such as suggested videos and comments.