YouTube Parental Controls and What Every Parent Needs to Know

Guest blogger Sandra Mills, a freelance tech and online safety writer discusses YouTube parental controls and internet safety tips. | MamaBear App

The following post is a guest blog from Sandra Mills, a freelance tech, online security, and online safety writer. She is passionate about keeping kids safe when they are online.

What Every Parent Needs to Know About YouTube

Not only is YouTube the number one online video website, it’s the second most popular U.S. search engine, only falling behind Google. Chances are, you’ve visited the site yourself, and it’s very likely your child is spending time on there as well. But since you can’t be looking over their shoulder at every moment, the question remains: What are they watching? And even more importantly: Are they posting videos of themselves? To protect your child, there are some things you need to know about YouTube, in terms of what they have access to and who has access to them.

Questionable Content

YouTube is a great place for viewing all sorts of valuable content. But let’s be honest. In their free time, your children probably aren’t using YouTube to learn how to solve an algebra problem or watch legendary orators deliver powerful speeches. They’re probably looking for something more entertaining: something silly, weird, or downright shocking. There is a lot—a lot—of content on YouTube, and for every video with a wholesome message, there are hundreds more that would make a parent raise an eyebrow.

Consider these statistics from 2013, provided by Media Smarts, Canada’s Centre for Digital and Media Literacy:

  • There are more than 1 billion unique visitors to YouTube each month.
  • Every minute, 100 hours of video are uploaded to the website.
  • 6 billion hours of video are watched on YouTube each month.

With numbers like that, there’s no questioning that your child runs the risk of stumbling across videos they probably shouldn’t be watching, even if they aren’t seeking out the type of content they wouldn’t want to watch with you looking over their shoulder. It’s entirely possible for them to click on a music video by their favorite artist that may turn out to contain questionable material.

Moments in the Spotlight

Just like Facebook and Twitter, YouTube is a social media site. When a user posts a video, they can enable options that let other users comment on it and “like” it. This can quickly become a negative space, where a child places their self worth in the number of likes they receive on a video or a comment that is directed towards them. If this becomes the case, and you see your child has become to victim or even the aggregator of hurtful language, it’s best to shut down their account, and have a discussion about Internet bullying.

While YouTube may be a difficult place to engage socially, it can be a great place for children to express themselves creatively. But have a conversation with them beforehand about what sort of things are appropriate to post. Common Sense Media suggests talking to your child about why they’re motivated to post videos of themselves online. Is it because they want to feel famous, or because they want to feel accomplished? Can they differentiate between those two things? And, most importantly, would they want you to see what they’re posting?

YouTube Parental Controls: A Step Further

If your child uses YouTube for any reason, consider laying down some ground rules. The site itself has its own rules of regulations in place, but users can find ways around them. Some videos require the viewer to be 18 to watch, but children can easily work around that by doing some simple math and “verifying” their age with the correct birthday.

Don’t forget to take advantage of privacy settings—they’re there for a reason. Make sure that, if your child is posting videos of him or herself, that they never use their real name, where they live, etc., and be smart about who they add to their friend list. You can also make sure that their channel’s privacy settings are set such that only friends can see their content.

Additionally, there is a YouTube safety mode parents can activate in an account that filters search results, but those filters only apply when you’re logged into the account. It’s a good idea to take parental controls a little further. Keep the family computer out in the open, and limit YouTube use on smartphones and tablets.


Helping Your Teen be Safe on Social Media

social media safety for teens

About the author: Naomi Broderick is a professional writer who loves being a parent and everything that goes with it. When she’s not having to watch her three children in the front yard she loves to cook and keep updated on the most recent technologies and ways of keeping children safe in the home and the neighborhood.

In our current culture, there are more and more ways that people, especially teens, can connect with one another. We now live in a digital world that is the preferred method of connecting and communicating with others. While today’s teenagers may seem that they are growing up more and more quickly, and seem more digitally savvy than their parents, they are still young. They lack the maturity and life skills to get themselves out of trouble in these new social settings. Helping them to prevent dangerous social interactions in the first place is the ideal thing to do. Here are some tips to help your teen be safe on social media.

Use Privacy Settings

Not only are there worries about having to having to keep your family safe in the real world, but in our current culture there are now worries about having to protect your family and teens online. One of the best ways to do this is to have your teen use the privacy settings on social media sites. Keep your teen’s profile private so that only family and people you know and trust can see photos, important dates such as birthdays, and other information. It would be best if they didn’t put any personal contact information such as phone numbers, home addresses, or other information on their social media sites. Also, make sure that your teen has a strong password that cannot be guessed easily and that they change it fairly regularly (approximately every 3-4 months). Making sure that your teen does not accept any friend requests of people that they do not know will help give you piece of mind knowing that strangers are not able to access your teen’s profile.

Have Open Discussions with Your Teen

There is one thing that any parent has to accept: teens are going to experiment and try new things. But, if you want your teen to be open an honest with you about what they are doing, you need to have an open dialogue with them. Parents need to be ready to actively listen and talk with their teen about what is going on in their life if they want the teen to come to them more often for help and guidance. Help them get over the situation but make sure that they learn from their mistake.

No Compromising Photos or Videos

Help your teen be smart about what they post online. Everything that they post on social media sites can be shared with the entire world and could hurt their integrity. If teens that are underage post sexy or nude photos of themselves not only they could get in trouble but parents as well. The parents are responsible for the original sender and could face jail time and be required to register as a sex offender. Teens could also be asked to leave sports teams, humiliated, or lose future educational opportunities. Talk to your teen about being smart and using good judgment about taking and posting photos, and that they know the serious consequences of what can happen for both them and you if the pictures are inappropriate.