With over one billion users, YouTube is easily one of the most popular websites in the world, especially among children. If your child has open-ended access to the Internet, you can almost guarantee they’re spending some portion of their time on this video platform each day.
Whether your little ones prefer to watch episodes of their favorite cartoons, recordings of other kids playing video games, silly pet antics, or some other content, chances are they’re getting it from YouTube, and if you aren’t careful they are getting more than what they asked for. My tween – he’s currently binge-watching Dude Perfect.
My friend Melanie, from Raising Real Men, recently told me that 83% of all twelve years old and older have seen group s** online. That’s a terrible and frightening statistic. And moms need to be aware that children don’t have to go looking for this stuff, it will find them.
Why? Because YouTube’s algorithm is designed to MAKE MONEY. Addictions are a lucrative business. So the sooner YouTube and all of the big players (Amazon, Audible, etc.) in media can get a child hooked on addictions, the more money they can make.
And once a child is addicted, they will have no qualms with sharing what they’ve “found” with other kids. We’ve seen this first-hand.
While you may not want to completely micromanage your child’s Internet usage, it is your responsibility to ensure they’re safe and can’t easily access material they shouldn’t watch – and there’s plenty of it on YouTube.
Fortunately, there are some steps you can take to give yourself peace of mind when your kids are watching their favorite videos. Here are a few tips to help keep your kids safe when they’re on YouTube – but the most important thing you can do is watch your kids. None of these methods is a fool-proof way to keep your kids safe on YouTube.
Turn on Restricted Mode. When this setting is on, YouTube will try to filter out explicit content geared toward a more mature audience. There’s no guarantee all questionable material will be hidden from view, but as it’s one of the few options you have to control YouTube content, it’s absolutely worth activating.
Moms! Hear me now! This is NOT foolproof. You’ve got to realize this if you are going to keep your kids safe on YouTube.
Consider YouTube Kids. This kid-friendly version of the platform is definitely geared toward a younger audience, but if your little ones are in the appropriate age range, YouTube Kids can be a great choice. Available as an app, YouTube Kids gives parents greater control over what content their littles ones should and should not be watching.
Keep computers in common areas. Don’t let your child watch YouTube videos from the privacy of their own bedroom, where they might stumble upon questionable content. Instead, keep computers and tablets in common areas, like the living room, where kids can’t hide their activity.
In fact, I prefer for my boys to stream YouTube content to the single television we own, which is in our living room. This way they know that I can see what they are watching any time I walk into the room.
Make sure your kids have alternatives to screens. Set boundaries on screen time! Just this one simple step will cut down on the chances your child will see something they shouldn’t see and help you keep your kids safe on YouTube. The more they are on screens, the harder it will be for you to watch over them.
We’re busy, right? I mean, I’ve gotta cook and clean and stuff. Limiting their screen time to when you can be present is a huge and often frustrating step, but so worth it. Make the rules, and enforce the rules, but also make sure to provide your kids with fun ways to occupy themselves when work is done.
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Let your kids know how to handle inappropriate content. If your children are old enough to surf the web alone, they should be old enough to understand they may come across unwanted content online. Make sure they know how to handle that situation when it arises. They can speak to you or another trusted adult who can address the issue, or turn off the screen if a scary or disturbing image comes up.
Kids have questions. If you don’t provide the answers in a healthy way, they are going to go looking for answers. That’s one of the reasons I love Hal and Melanie’s book Love, Honor and Virtue. If your 11-year-old can’t read, get the audio version!
Keep communication open. Know what kind of content and videos your kids like to watch. Sit down and watch their favorite YouTubers together, and ask them to show you videos they find cool or interesting. Knowing what kind of content your kids are consuming – and where their interests lie – can help you keep tabs on what they are seeing online.
Help your kids subscribe to their favorite channels. Using YouTube’s search function is an easy way to find yourself faced with questionable stuff. Instead of letting your kids search for their favorite vloggers and videos, help them subscribe to their channels to better control their content.
While there’s no perfect fool-proof way to keep your kids safe when using YouTube – or doing anything on the Internet, for that matter – these are some steps you can proactively take as a parent to protect them from running into content they shouldn’t be exposed to.