YouTube is the world's biggest video media platform. Anyone can upload videos under the YouTube guidelines. Unfortunately, lots of inappropriate content does fall through unnoticed.

Google (the company which owns YouTube) has implemented restriction features. YouTube periodically also responds to users flagging content as inappropriate.

There are various steps you can take to make YouTube safer for your child. If you have a very young child that uses YouTube, you can remove the YouTube app and replace it with the YouTube for Kids app. This helps provide safer content for your younger child.

1. Discuss

Talk to you child about their viewing habits on YouTube. Discuss what they should do if they see something that they do not like, is inappropriate, or makes them feel uncomfortable.

In our published book Keeping Safe on the Web with Kyle The Kingfish, we introduce a process which the reader can use: Turn. Think. Tell.

Talk to your child about what they should do if they see something that they do not like and what they can do by using Turn. Think. Tell.

Turn. Turn your eyes away.
Think. Think about something that is good or fun. This can be something that takes their mind off what they just saw.
Tell. Tell a parent or trusted adult.

Talk to your child about how you can support them in avoiding inappropriate content from the responsible YouTube channel or app, and how you can support them in finding a better channel or app for content instead.

2. Monitor

We recommend appropriately monitoring your child's usage of YouTube. We also recommend always keeping laptops, desktops, and other devices out of bedrooms.

3. Check history

We recommend periodically checking your child's YouTube video history. Unfortunately, YouTube history can be deleted or avoided entirely by using Incognito mode, so we recommend appropriate monitoring as stated above.

4. Disable Autoplay functionality

Disabling the video Autoplay feature can help prevent other videos with potentially inappropriate content from appearing automatically after watching a video. You will need to perform this process for each comptuer and device which uses YouTube.

Laptop/Desktop:

Open YouTube.com
Open any video. Disable the Autoplay switch. Autoplay should be enabled by default:

YouTube Autoplay switch

Mobile:

Open the YouTube app
Tap the profile icon circle at the top right of the app
Tap Settings
Tap Autoplay
Disable the Autoplay next video switch

5. Restrict YouTube using My Safe Surfer or Wi-Fi Lifeguard

If you use My Safe Surfer to manage devices, perform the following steps online at https://my.safesurfer.io instead. The process will be very similar.

If you own a Safe Surfer Wi-Fi Lifeguard router, you can configure forced YouTube restrictions for specific devices or all devices accessing YouTube through your Wi-Fi Lifeguard at home.

Using a device that is connected to your Wi-Fi Lifeguard, open https://mydevice.safesurfer.co.nz in your favourite web browser (e.g. Google Chrome or Firefox) to login to the Wi-Fi Lifeguard administration panel. If you have not registered your Wi-Fi Lifeguard, log in with your Safe Surfer account details. If you have not created a Safe Surfer account, you can make one here: https://www.safesurfer.co.nz/register/

Click on the Block Sites drop down menu on the sidebar. Click the Sites menu link. This will open up the rules menu for social media platforms and site rules. If you wish, you can set specific settings for individual devices connected to your Wi-Fi Lifeguard network (as marked in red over the blue device drop down box).

Sites menu

Click the drop down menu hanging under YouTube. Select the option you prefer. The Moderate Filtering option is far less restrictive than the Strict Filtering option. You can also block YouTube entirely, if you wish. Unfortunately, even in the strictest filtering mode, the YouTube filter can miss out inappropriate videos and even block entirely appropriate videos. We recommend trying these settings out on your own device first to see what is made available to you both using a web browser on a computer and within the app on a mobile device.

This will enable restricted mode for all applicable devices (either all devices or a specific device in accordance with your selection in the blue device drop down box). Once you have saved your configuration, open the YouTube app after a couple of minutes. Navigate to Profile (upper right icon) > Settings > General > Restricted mode. This option should now be enabled and greyed out as below:

Forced restricted mode inside YouTube app

If you have configured settings for an individual device connected to your Wi-Fi Lifeguard network, repeat this process for all applicable devices.
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