All it takes is a strangely-worded Google search of a seemingly innocuous subject to expose your children to something that isn’t age-appropriate. That means parents need to be tech-savvy. Fortunately, this guide will show you how easy it is to ensure safe YouTube viewing for your kids.
What is YouTube Restricted Mode?
Over 300 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube every minute, and the platform isn’t doing a great job of sieving through it to check what’s appropriate and what’s not. So is their child-friendly version – YouTube Kids – safe?
Creators who find loopholes in the Youtube algorithm can put up some less-than-savory content. A good example of this was Elsagate, where seemingly child-friendly videos actually contained highly age-inappropriate content.
The ability to circumvent the algorithm using a kid-friendly thumbnail forces parents to manually curate access to videos that are suitable for children. But there is a better way available for YouTube, and that is Restricted Mode. Even with YouTube’s sometimes confusing UI, parents won’t have to delve deep into the settings to enable it.
How do I activate YouTube Restricted Mode?
- Open YouTube in your browser. In the top right corner of the screen, you will see a letter that indicates the Google account you’re logged in to. Press that.
- Scroll down to the bottom of the menu and find an option that says ‘Restricted Mode: Off.’ Click on it. YouTube’s Restricted Mode is always ‘Off’ by default.
- You will see a small pop-up at the top of the page. In the pop-up, click on ‘ACTIVATE RESTRICTED MODE.’ Your YouTube will refresh, and your video feed will be devoid of sensitive content.
- Double down on keeping YouTube safe for your kids. Repeat the steps above until you’re back at the ‘Restricted Mode: On’ option. Click on it.
- At the bottom of the pop-up, click on ‘Lock Restricted Mode on this browser.’ Although not highlighted, hovering over it will reveal that it’s clickable.
- You’ll be redirected to the Google account login page. Type your password and press ‘Continue’. Once again you’ll be redirected to YouTube’s front page. Now Restricted Mode can be deactivated only at your prompting and will stay enabled even when you log out of your Google account.
- If you use more than one browser at home, you will need to repeat these steps for all of them.
What are the alternatives to kid-safe YouTube?
Even with Restricted Mode activated, YouTube Kids isn’t 100% watertight. Some questionable content can still make its way through the filters. Here are some other options you can rely on, presented in order of effectiveness:
- Jellies. A healthy alternative to other streaming platforms. Jellies focuses on providing educational videos for kids, allowing you to even pick a topic you want your kids to focus on.
- kiddzTube. This service is aimed at preschool-aged children. A team of teachers curate the kiddzTube content by hand-picking videos from YouTube. To keep your kids occupied, they add extra content, such as quizzes. Alongside the teaching content, the app provides cartoons and music for entertainment purposes.
- GOnoodle. A free app which stands out from the rest for its focus on keeping your kids active. GOnoodle likes to promote itself as providing dancing and yoga tutorials alongside mindfulness videos to children.
- Nick Jr. All the content under the Nick Jr. umbrella ought to be safe – this Nickelodeon-branded network provides content aimed exclusively at young children. The Nick Jr. app also provides games and music to keep your children stimulated. The app is free but may require a TV subscription to Nick Jr. to have all the content available.
- Netflix. The parental controls are easy to find, as the app requires to enter a PIN to access ‘mature’ content. You can also tailor the content of each account to different age groups. The good thing is there is no additional payment to access child-friendly Netflix.
There are plenty of options available for parents on the internet. Make sure to do your research before committing to just one. Before setting your kids loose, however, make sure you know how to keep them safe online.
Your privacy is also worth considering. If you want to curate videos for your children that will also respect your family's privacy, check out our list of Youtube alternatives.
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