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Oct 26, 2021

How to put parental controls on YouTube

Megan Proops

Megan Proops

Product writer

How to set up YouTube parental controls
Millions of children around the world watch YouTube every day. Whether they want to keep up with popular culture, get extra homework help, or find hints for their favorite video games, YouTube is often the first port of call. It’s an impressive resource that puts all types of educational and fun videos within easy reach. Given that so much of this content is user-generated though, it can be tricky to ensure that your kids are sticking to appropriate content all the time. We’ve had a look into what kids are watching to see why it’s important to keep an eye on their activity, and how to put parental controls on YouTube to keep them safe.

What kids are watching on YouTube

Over half of children under the age of 11 watch YouTube at least once a day. Around 25% of the content they view can be classified as educational in some way – though only a small part of this is really purposeful and valuable educational content. This doesn’t mean that the educational content is not there, but rather that it does not always reach kids if they’re not specifically looking for it.

While some videos contain violent content – such as graphic shooting scenes in video game streams – kids are more likely to see inappropriate content in adverts rather than videos themselves. And since 85% of videos have adverts, this is probably the hardest thing to control. The 15% of videos that don’t have ads are typically education-focused shows, such as classes uploaded by teachers, giving another incentive for purposefully seeking out positive content.

How to put parental controls on YouTube

There are lots of ways you can become more confident that your kids are staying safe on YouTube and sticking to its educationally-valuable side. If you want to set parental controls in the YouTube app or website itself, YouTube has a couple of its own features that serve as a basis for protection. Switch off Autoplay to help keep your kids’ viewing more intentional and turn on Restricted Mode to automatically filter out inappropriate content. Note that the YouTube algorithm isn’t perfect (so some things may slip through) and that you’ll have to set this up for each browser separately. While you can lock this setting on a computer, you can’t on a phone or tablet – so it’s easy for your kids to switch it off.
How to set up parental controls for YouTube

Filter your kids’ YouTube search results

With Qustodio’s parental control tools you can ensure that Restricted Mode stays activated on your kids’ devices. Switch on safe search to remove harmful content from the results when your kids search on YouTube (as well as on Google and Bing). This also hides the comment section underneath each video so your kids don’t interact with strangers or see messages from trolls.

Block or limit access to YouTube and the YouTube app

You can also choose to block or limit access to youtube.com and the YouTube app with Qustodio’s YouTube monitoring feature. If you’re setting up YouTube parental controls for Chromebook or Android, then we recommend you block the website and set a time limit for the app (since time limits can’t be set for a specific website on Android or Chromebook). 

YouTube parental controls for iOS work a little differently – the settings for the website and the app are linked. This means that if you use Qustodio to block youtube.com, the YouTube app will be blocked too (and vice versa). Similarly, when you set a time limit for the app, this time limit will be applied to the website as well. 

You don’t need to worry about the YouTube app when it comes to Mac and Windows computers since only the website is accessible there – so simply choose whether to block or allow access to it.

Monitor watched YouTube videos

If you do let your kids access YouTube, then Qustodio’s reporting tools give you an easy way to see what they’re doing there. From the activity dashboard and timeline, you can view the searches your kids have made and see a list of videos they’ve watched. When you click on a video, you’ll be taken to YouTube to watch it yourself so you can see exactly what content your kids have been accessing.

Encourage intentional YouTube viewing

As well as setting parental controls, we recommend that you watch YouTube with your kids and open up discussions about what they’re seeing. Help them subscribe to educational channels that you’ve had good experiences with so they’re less likely to simply browse and stumble upon adult content. All of this will help your kids to watch with more intention and purpose.

With everything from homework help to discussions of current events, YouTube’s extensive library offers a lot of learning opportunities as well as entertainment. When you stick to its good side, it becomes a great resource for you and your family. Setting parental controls for YouTube, talking to your kids about what they’re watching, and encouraging purposeful viewing will all help you to make your family’s experience positive.

Want some more info on how to set up parental controls for YouTube with Qustodio? Read all about it here.

How can Qustodio help protect your family?

Qustodio is the best way to keep your kids safe online and help them create healthy digital habits. Our parental control tools ensure they don't access inappropriate content or spend too much time in front of their screens.