Sep 6, 2022

Is YouTube Kids safe for kids? Digital Safety Guide for parents

Qustodio team

Qustodio team

Experts in digital safety

Is YouTube Kids safe for kids?

YouTube Kids, as the name suggests, is an app designed especially for your little ones. But is YouTube Kids really safer than other “kid-friendly” social media sites or apps? Is YouTube Kids really safer than YouTube? Our Digital Safety Guide covers everything parents need to know about YouTube Kids, one of the most popular apps designed for children.

YouTube Kids app ratings

Qustodio: 5+ (with 20 min. max & cowatching), 7+ (with 30-min. time limit)

Apple: 4+

Android: PEGI 7

What is YouTube Kids?

In 2015, Google launched YouTube Kids, a more contained environment than YouTube, to make it safer and for those under 13 to browse videos online. According to our research, children spent one minute shy of 80 minutes per day on YouTube Kids in 2021. Despite this, thanks to its “family-friendly” branding, it is still one of the apps that parents block the least.

YouTube Kids is one of the most popular video platforms for children under 13 —though by the time your child is age 8, they will probably want to switch to the ‘real’ YouTube. 

As the name implies, YouTube Kids is YouTube with a focus on kids. It attempts to weed out disturbing videos, violence and inappropriate content from millions of uploads, and to provide educational content such as how to build a model volcano, along with child-friendly shows such as ChuChu TV, Masha the Bear and Peppa Pig. In addition, YouTube Kids also offers native parental controls such as time limits.

What do kids like about YouTube Kids?

  • YouTube Kids is easy for even the youngest kids to use.
  • Children love repetition and unlike the more static television of our youth, today’s kids just have to click a button to watch something again, or do nothing in the case of autoplay.
  • YouTube Kids gives children a sense of control over what they see by giving them access to all kinds of videos. This ability to choose is something that they probably don’t get in other areas of their lives.
  • YouTube creates mimetic desire. Mimetic desire is the pleasure kids get from watching other people get joy from playing a game or unboxing a toy.

Is YouTube Kids safe for kids?

A study done by Common Sense media found that 27% of videos watched by kids 8 and under are intended for older target audiences, with violence being the most likely negative content type. Parents should also be aware that YouTube Kids is ad supported.

While there is currently no way to make the content on YouTube Kids 100% safe or appropriate, YouTube has come a long way in its efforts to improve its content filters, its content provider approval process for videos for kids, and to provide more robust parental controls. Combined, these all help make YouTube Kids a generally safe place for kids to watch videos. 

Is YouTube kids really safe for young children

How can I make YouTube Kids safer for my kids?

1. Set screen time limits (and stick to them)

Apps and streaming platforms are designed to be addictive and children generally have not developed self control. Use YouTube Kids’ native time limit feature and/or a parental control app like Qustodio to put them in place. Qustodio does not recommend screen time for kids under 5 (except for video calls with family). 

For 5+, it depends on the child, but in general 15 to 30 minutes is plenty for younger kids, and 1 hour max for 8+, based on screen time recommendations from the World Health Organization (WHO).

2. Select ‘approved content only’ mode

This ensures your kids are only able to watch videos, channels or collections that you’ve hand-picked and approved, and prohibits search. YouTube Kids allows you to select content levels based on your child’s age.

3. Block videos you don’t approve of.

You can also ‘recommend’ videos you approve of that they have watched before so they can watch them again.

4. Switch to YouTube Premium to avoid ads

5. Co-watch and monitor content

Especially for young children, make sure you sit down with them, or that they watch videos in a common area so you can have an eye on what they are viewing. It’s a great way to understand what your kids like and get yourself caught up on YouTube trends like ASMR, mukbang, and shopping hauls.

This approach will make you more prepared to strike up fun conversations, but also be ready to react when something goes wrong. When co-viewing is not possible, check in on their viewing history for an idea of the types of video they like to watch.

Qustodio’s final advice on YouTube Kids

While there is still no way to guarantee your child won’t see something inappropriate (e.g. nudity, violence), we think YouTube Kids is mostly safe if you take the time to set up kid profiles and parental controls to limit the kind of content they can view and the amount of time they can connect. We recommend parents encourage their children to use YouTube Kids for as long as possible before switching to regular YouTube (with a YouTube monitoring service). 

No matter which YouTube you use, we also recommend co-viewing and monitoring what they are watching. If you have the budget, switch to Premium to avoid all the ads.

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.