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Is YouTube safe and private?

Staying safe and private on YouTube is important. In this guide we’ll show you how to stay secure on the platform and how to protect your privacy. We’ll also offer some tips for keeping kids safe on YouTube.

Is YouTube safe and private?

Is YouTube private?

No — you will struggle to stay private while using YouTube, as the site records and stores a lot of data about its users.

YouTube is owned by Google, a famously data-hungry company, so if you’re concerned about privacy, you may wish to avoid this website. There are steps you can take to protect your privacy, however.

For example, you can use a VPN to change your IP address. Like all websites, YouTube views your IP address when you connect to it, and this information can be used to track you and acquire location data. When you turn on a VPN, your IP address is hidden, so YouTube will not be able to gather that specific information about you.

You can also use YouTube without setting up an account, which limits how much personal information you give the site. Privacy isn’t the only thing you should think about, however — before using YouTube, you should also consider how safe it is.

Is YouTube safe?

YouTube is a relatively safe platform and comes with some useful safety tools. However, the degree to which the site can be considered safe depends on how you use it.

Unsafe or inappropriate content on YouTube is either removed or placed behind age restrictions, ensuring that young people — and people without YouTube accounts — cannot access it. Some inappropriate videos do slip through the screening system, however, so users should remain vigilant.

Beyond inappropriate content, you can also encounter cybersecurity risks on YouTube. The site allows users to include links in their comments, a feature that lends itself well to phishing. It’s not unusual to see malicious commenters trying to convince other users to follow unsafe links.

You may also be exposed to malicious ads that will try to convince you to click a button or follow a link. If you do, you could end up downloading malware or leaking private information by accident. To avoid these threats, follow the tips below for staying safe on YouTube.

Safety tips for using YouTube

To stay safe on YouTube, follow these tips.

  • Don’t follow links in comments. To avoid phishing hacks, malware, and other threats, never click on links in the comments under a video.
  • Avoid clicking on YouTube ads. While ads that play during and throughout long-from YouTube videos are usually safe, pop-up ads and those that play in the YouTube Shorts tab are less reliable. To avoid risks, do not interact with them.
  • Use Restricted Mode. If you enable YouTube Restricted Mode, inappropriate content is far less likely to reach your account. You can even lock Restricted Mode, to make sure that other users can’t turn it off without your permission.
  • Use strong passwords. Your YouTube account is secured with the same details as your other Google accounts, like Gmail. Make sure you use long, complex passwords, including numbers, symbols, and both upper and lowercase letters. To avoid being hacked on YouTube, use a password that is at least 10 characters long, and enable two-factor authentication.

What is YouTube Kids?

You may have heard of YouTube Kids. This is a version of the site on which certain functions are removed, and age-restricted content cannot be found.

YouTube Kids can be downloaded as an app, and is also available on browsers. It needs to be set up by an adult but it’s intended for use by children and is meant to keep kids safe online.

Is YouTube Kids Safe?

YouTube kids is certainly safer than the regular version of YouTube, but it’s far from perfect.

For one thing, it’s not hard for children to quickly alter the settings on a YouTube Kids account — to access the settings, they just need to solve a simple math puzzle. This means a child could potentially change what content they have access to without a parent’s knowledge.

Then there’s the content itself. 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 YouTube videos actually contained highly age-inappropriate content.

To add further safety measures, use Restricted Mode. Even with YouTube’s sometimes confusing UI, parents won’t have to delve deep into the settings to enable this setting.

How do I set parental controls and profiles on YouTube Kids?

To set up a profile on YouTube Kids, just download the app and authenticate yourself as an adult by performing a quick math puzzle. You’ll then have a few options to set and change parental controls.

  • As soon as you set up the app or browser profile, you will be prompted to decide whether to keep the search function or not.
  • From the YouTube Kids homepage, you can tap the padlock icon to open a “Settings” menu, where you can change the age range to which content should be tailored.
  • Also on the “Settings” menu, you can toggle the search function on or off, and delete YouTube history data.

What is YouTube doing to make the app safer for kids?

YouTube is attempting to make the site and the app safer for kids by hiring more content moderators and by using advanced AI monitoring systems to catch inappropriate videos.

Creators also have tools to ban certain keywords from their comment sections, removing hate speech and other harmful content. YouTube is putting particular focus on curating the content on YouTube Kids to limit exposure to harmful media.

With over 300 hours of content uploaded to YouTube every minute, however, YouTube’s monitoring and restrictions systems will never be able to catch and review every possible risk.

What are the kid-safe alternatives to 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 YouTube alternatives 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.