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How YouTube Safety Settings Work

The YouTube platform is incredibly popular with Children and Young People often the go to platform for watching video content.  Access to YouTube normally starts very young especially with the introduction of tablets to infants.  But how do YouTube safety settings work?

On YouTube there is a lot of great content both entertaining and educational but on YouTube there is also a lot of highly inappropriate content not suitable from children and young people.  When it comes to YouTube kids many children are a whizz at working their way around it and finding content which they want to watch but that is potential when things can go wrong in which they could stumble across some content which might be inappropriate – once you see content it’s difficult to un-see it.

In my Parent workshops in Schools especially in primary schools Parents have raised concerns about the content which they feel their children have seen on YouTube which has been inappropriate – examples such as versions of popular cartoons but contain disturbing and inappropriate content not suitable for children.

The thing with YouTube is it does regular supervision on the surface it may look like a well know cartoon it could turn into something more distressing so much so that according to an article on BBC ‘BBC Trending has found hundreds of similar videos of children’s cartoon characters with inappropriate themes’ the article goes on to say that ‘in addition to Peppa Pig, there are similar videos featuring characters from the Disney movie Frozen, the Minions franchise, Doc McStuffins, Thomas the Tank Engine, and many more’

YouTube has announced a clampdown on such content by implementing age restrictions as well as making videos which have been mentioned above ineligible for advertising revenue, the idea being that this would reduce the motivation to create them in the first place.

Age-restricted videos can’t be seen by users who aren’t logged in, or by those who have entered their age as below 18 on both the site and the app. More importantly, they also don’t show up on YouTube Kids, which is a separate app aimed at parents who want to let their children under 13 use the site unsupervised.

However, there have been some reports such as that in Daily Mail in which ‘Investigators found several unsuitable videos on YouTube Kids’

So What Parents Do

Supervision is very important & watching together is a great to ensure the content which children and young people are watching is suitable and appropriate – while watching together might not always be possible here are a few other things to consider.

You Tube Restricted Mode

This mode is designed primarily to filter out content which potentially inappropriate. This mode is ‘Opt in’ which means users need to turn it on and enable it.  Restricted mode can be enabled on the website and also on the app.  An important thing to remember about restricted mode is that it’s not always reliable it uses an automatic system which is run by algorithms, these algorithms determine which content maybe not suitable or inappropriate they rely on the title, language and metadata used in each video and this is an area which can be a problem as if the creator or person who has uploaded the video has not correctly labelled the video it may not be picked up.

YouTube have said ‘We understand that our automated system isn’t perfect and it sometimes makes mistakes when assessing which videos to make available in Restricted mode.

To enable restricted mode on YouTube, follow the 2 steps below;

1: Locate the account icon in the top right corner on the YouTube site or app.

2: At the bottom of the options click on ‘Restricted Mode’

Don’t forget you can also enable restricted mode on iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch as well as the YouTube App

Important to remember restricted Mode works at a browser level, so if you choose to use it you will need to turn it on within each browser installed on your device. You can also lock YouTube settings by clicking on the ‘Lock restricted mode’ on this browser once restricted mode is enabled

Flag not suitable or inappropriate

It is important to know how use the reporting tools within YouTube and to flag any content which you feel is unsuitable or inappropriate.  YouTube staff review reported videos 24 hours a day, seven days a week. A video can be reported at any time once uploaded to YouTube; it is then reviewed by YouTube staff.  To report a video, follow these steps;

  1. Sign in to YouTube.
  2. Below the player for the video that you want to report, click More.
  3. In the drop-down menu, choose Report.
  4. Select the reason that best fits the violation in the video.
  5. Provide any additional details that may help the review team make their decision, including timestamps or descriptions of the violation.

YouTube Kids

YouTube Kids is a free app which is available for Android and iOS devices which is designed for children.  One of the main advantages with YouTube kids is that it offers better parental controls compared to that of YouTube.

However, has we have already mentioned it relies on smart algorithms to determine which content is suitable and appropriate which don’t always work the way they need to.  YouTube kids is only available in an app and not currently available for laptop or desktop computers

Can I see my Child’s History on YouTube?

There is no way of viewing the history on YouTube without having the login details for the account.  But if you do have the login details for the YouTube account it is possible to view the history in which you can see a full list of all videos which they have been watching via Clicking Here 

Some other things to consider

Many children can spend excessive amounts of time using YouTube this can start from a particularly young age.  It’s important for Parents to be aware of the amount of time which their children might be spending using YouTube and to set appropriate limits using screen a screen time management tool for example.

Filtering systems such as that with YouTube can help deal with unsuitable or inappropriate content but they are not perfect nor should they be used as a replacement for regular conversations and involvement in your child’s digital life.  Become a more informed ‘Digital Parent’ keep yourself up to date with develops and use what you are learning and reading as an opportunity to start a regular conversation about online safety.

Help children develop strategies for dealing with unwanted and inappropriate content learn together how to flag and report and let them know that they can speak to you about anything which they find upsetting online.

Use a layered approach when it comes to parental controls and remember that it’s probably not a case in which one parental control tool will do exactly what you need.  Spend a little time researching the types of parental control tools available to find solutions which best meet the needs of you and your family.

Keep an eye over on for our upcoming blog post on Parental Controls.

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Wayne Denner shares his knowledge & expertise on leading tech industry blog.

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