These days there is an amazing amount of videos on YouTube, and a vast number of kids educational and entertainment videos. But there is also a large amount of inappropriate violent or sexual content that is not exactly what we want to be exposing our children to.
It's not fair on the kids or on us if they need to be supervised 100% of the time while browsing or watching videos on this particular site.
While it's not a foolproof method, YouTube has implemented a safety feature and it's definitely worth being acquainted with this tool if you have children using your computer.
Turning on Safety mode
For a single session
- Open youtube.com and scroll to the bottom of the page. You will see an option for "Safety: Off"
- Click the Safety button and select "On"
- Click save. This setting will stay until you (or your child) opens a browser. This means you have to re-set for every session of browsing for videos with your child, and it would be pretty easy to forget.
Lock it on a browser
If you create your own YouTube account, you can lock the safety setting to that particular browser. The process has a few extra steps, but you won't have to do it every time you use the computer to watch videos.
For best results, we suggest doing this in each of the browsers installed on your computer (Firefox, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Safari... We all seem to have more than one).
- Open youtube.com in the browser and log in to your account.
- Scroll to the bottom of the page and select the button that says "Safety: Off"
- Once you change the setting to "On", you will now get an extra option, saying "Lock safety mode on this browser". Click it.
- You will be asked to re-enter your password to confirm. Once you have done this, the setting will be confirmed.
- Log out of your YouTube account. The safety setting will now remained switched on in the browser.
To disable the setting, you will need to reverse the steps: Log into your account, scroll to the bottom and select the option. Click "Unlock safety mode on this browser" and re-enter your password when prompted.
What does safety mode do?
Safety mode filters the content that YouTube will display on your computer. It will not show anything that has been flagged as inappropriate by other users. They admit it is not 100% accurate, but it will stop you seeing the highly sexual thumbnails and links to extremely grown-up, violent or questionable content.
What are some of the shortfalls of YouTube's safety setting?
It is important to be aware that there are some limitations to the safety setting:
- Some inappropriate items will fall through the cracks. However, when we tested it the results for certain searches dropped from X-Rated to PG; the kind of things you see on TV in the evenings.
- There are ways around this, and particularly tech-savvy kids may know these. You can use a proxy server, or set your browser into incognito mode.
Basically, it's a great way of relieving some of the stress associated with accessing a huge amount of educational and entertaining videos on Youtube with your kids. Some supervision may still be required.