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.


Using Apps to Keep Track of Your Kids this Halloween


Every kid wants to enjoy the fun of going house-to-house with friends in the dark trick-or-treating on Halloween night. Many of us parents remember the sheer joy of running through the neighborhood in the dark with friends collecting ungodly amounts of candy. Back then, our parents sent us out the door and let us go. Sure, they worried about urban-legend-inspired razor blades in apples, but didn’t worry as much about stranger danger as we do today or reputation damaging photos on social media.

Related: Protecting Kids from Stranger Danger

Today, things are a bit different. Sending our kids off into the the dark isn’t something we are all comfortable with. And while many neighborhoods around the country have designated trick-or-treating events to keep children and families safe, sometimes that is not enough to reassure parents worried about sending kids off to trick or treat with friends or to attend a Halloween party.

Halloween Safety Tips for Parents and Children to Help Keep Your Family Safe

  • Make sure costumes are safe. Kids don’t want to be restricted in how they wear their costume, but tell your children that there are some common sense rules they should follow. For example, make sure they keep their faces exposed so they can breathe and that their costumes don’t cover their eyes. Discourage them from wearing full masks when trick-or-treating in the dark. Of course, flame-retardant costumes are a must to prevent fire accidents and be sure it’s the right size so they don’t trip over it.
  • Increase visibility. Make sure your child wears bright clothing or even small reflectors. No one wants to worry about their child being hit by a car if they aren’t able to be seen. Encourage younger children especially to choose light-colored costumes. Give them glow sticks and flashlights to carry with them so they can be seen by drivers.
  • Travel in groups. Older kids are going to want to trick-or-treat on their own, without a parent. If they do, make sure they go with at least one friend, preferably more.
  • Monitor social media.  Remind your children to think about the consequences of a picture before it’s posted or messaged to anyone. Halloween is a high traffic time for photo sharing. Monitor your kids being tagged, or comments being made about their spooktakular attire. The MamaBear App can help you monitor your child’s social safety.
  • Track your child’s location. Install a family safety app like MamaBear on every family member’s smartphone so you can monitor your children’s whereabouts. The app allows your children to check in with an emoticon to share where they are and how they’re feeling. Children can also request rides from parents or send SOS messages if they are in trouble. Alerts can let you know if your child has indeed made it to that Halloween party and when they leave.

See Also: Halloween and Safety Tips from the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention

Thankfully, parents have resources today to keep their families safe during the free-for-all that Halloween night can be. Reminding your kids of these safety measures and monitoring their location  and social activity provides peace of mind while allowing your children to enjoy all the candy, haunted houses and other Halloween fun we loved when we were kids.

For more child safety tips visit the MamaBear blog or follow us on Facebook.

Image Credit: Kids Activity Blog

Cyber Safety Tips for Kids – Preventing Cyberbullying and Inappropriate “Friends”

cyber-safety-tips-for-kidsHow to prevent – and stop — Cyberbullying

In our last blog post, we discussed preparing for the new school year by taking certain safety precautions with your children’s internet use, whether on their smartphones, on home computers or even in the classroom. This week we’re going to continue that discussion by talking about cyberbullying. As children start a new year they naturally make many new friends. Most of the time, those friendships are healthy and normal. But sometimes friendships go sour. Our kids get bullied. And in the 21st century, that bullying can get very ugly – and very public — with the use of social media.

What exactly is cyberbullying? According to, “cyberbullying occurs when a person uses the Internet, emails, text messages, instant messaging, social media websites, online forums, chat rooms, or other digital technology to harass, threaten or humiliate another person.”

A cyberbully can be a boy or a girl. He or she is often anonymous, able to hide behind a screen name. And with the internet, their bullying tactics can be employed 24/7 with the use of a smartphone or computer. Unlike physical or personal forms of bullying, cyberbullying can be very public. “With a few clicks,” HelpGuide says, “the humiliation can be witnessed by hundreds or even thousands of people online.”

The impact of cyberbullying can be devastating to a child of any age. That’s why it is so important for parents to monitor their children’s social media behavior using various methods to ensure their children’s safe and effective use of the internet for school work and positive social interactions. We put together a list of tips to help you keep tabs on your children’s online behavior and prepare you to handle instances of cyberbullying should they ever arise.

The best way to handle cyberbullying is to stop it before it starts with preventative measures.

Cyber Safety Tips for Kids – Preventing Cyberbullying

  • Keep information private. Tell your child to never post or share his/her personal information online or on social networks. Remind him/her not to share friends’ information as well. Personal information may include their full name, school name – even on a shirt, email address, phone number, home address, DOB and no pictures of a new driving license!
  • Don’t share passwords. No child should share passwords with anyone, except parents.
  • Keep communication lines open. As with everything in your child’s life, ask questions; create dialog. Don’t pry or interrogate, but make conversation with your child about his/her online life. Create a sharing and open communication environment in your home.
  • Be smart about what is shared. Remind your child that he/she may regret some of the photos or words used online. He/She should always think twice about what is posted online or said in an email.
  • Monitor your children’s online and social media behavior. One way you can do this is by installing a family safety app like MamaBear on your child’s Apple or Android device to monitor your child’s behavior on social networks, including when he/she makes new friends and is tagged in posts, photos or at locations. Be aware when inappropriate language or indication of bullying is posted to his/her profile.

What your child can do if faced with a cyberbully

  • Do not respond to the cyberbully. According to, if your child is being bullied, remind him/her that the bully wants a reaction. So tell your child not to give him what he wants.
  • Block the cyberbully. Use preferences or privacy settings to block the bully. This might not make the problem go away, but it helps reduce the options a bully has for targeting a victim.
  • Ask for help. Remind your child that if he/she is being bullied, it’s OK to ask a parent for help. He/She can also turn to a school counselor or teacher. He/She shouldn’t have to face cyberbullying alone. A comfortable solution can be worked on together.
  • Report abuse. Use a social network’s “abuse” tools to report bullying to the social network administrators. If there is a physical threat involved, contact the authorities.
  • Save any and all evidence. Thankfully, cyberbullying is usually recorded or saved somewhere and can be retrieved if necessary in the event that things get out of hand.
  • Don’t retaliate: Don’t perpetuate the cycle of abuse by retaliating or resorting to the same kind of behavior as the cyberbully. says “getting back at the bully turns you into one and reinforces the bully’s behavior.”
  • Stand up for what’s right: Tell your kids not to participate in a cyberbullying culture. They can refuse to pass along cyberbullying messages and stand up against cyberbullying among their friends.

We’ve all heard the horror stories about cyberbullying. Thankfully, while cyberbullying is a very real threat, following these preventative measures and action steps can help any parent and child work together to stop a cyberbully in his tracks, leaving social media for its proper use: as a way to bond, share and strengthen positive relationships.

Help prevent cyberbullying with the MamaBear app, available on Android devices here and iPhone devices here.


photo credit: > ange < via photopin cc

Teenage safety tips on their first independent vacation

track your teenager

It’s hard enough when your child starts leaving the house without you – not to be filled with worry. But when your child is old enough to go on their first independent holiday, it can be difficult to avoid the temptation of frequently calling them up and checking that they’re OK.

I mean, let’s face it – there are plenty of things that could go wrong on vacation and even though it’s unlikely anything bad will happen, as a worried parent you’re much more likely to be focusing on the bad things than the good things. But stop right there.

There are things you can do, and things you can put into place before hand – that will not only put your mind at ease – but that will ensure the safety and well being your child too.

The likelihood is, for their first independent holiday your child is going to be around 16-20 years old – as this is when most children decide they’d rather explore the world with their friends than with their parents – and that’s fine. You can’t argue against this – you were probably the same at their age (even if you’re denying it all these years later!). First things first, you need to give your child acceptance and be encouraging about this big step. While it should be your job to ensure you have measures like this in place – the main outcome you want from this vacation is that they enjoy themselves and they don’t come back afraid to take such an important step again. Independence is hugely important when growing up and venturing into adulthood – and the last thing you want is to scare them away from it.

So how can you rest easy knowing they’re safe?

Here are a few teenage safety tips while traveling:

1. Book a package deal

Book your child’s holiday vacation with a package deal operator, where most things are included – such as flight transfers, hotel, breakfast and even dinner. That way you know that all those little details are being taken care of – and you know that they’re getting a good meal every day. Always book through a trusted provider too, and if you like – you could even tell the travel agent or booking agent that this is their first independent vacation and that you’d like someone to keep an eye on them. Just don’t tell you child you’ve arranged that – as it takes away the fun from their point of view!

2. Don’t let them go solo

Traveling independently for the first time is pretty nerve-wracking, and even if your child is putting on a brave face, the chances are they’re also feeling a bit apprehensive. I’d always say that for the first independant holiday, your child should be going somewhere with one or two friends – never solo. Traveling solo is daunting for even the most seasoned jetsetter, so make sure they have company. There is also safety in numbers here – as the chances are – if they get lost – at least one of them will know how to read a map, or speak the language, etc.

3. Get a money passport

Most banks now offer money passports, where you pre-load currency onto a debit card – which you can then use freely when you’re abroad without getting fined of charged fees. Not only is it hugely convenient, but you also get given 2 cards (one for safe keeping) and an online log in. So should your child run out of cash half way through the vacation – you can simply load more currency onto the card from home online 

4. Pay for Roaming Charges

If you’re really worried about keeping in touch with your children – then for your own peace of mind it may be better to allow you child to use the mobile internet on their phone while abroad. That way, they can update their Facebook status, tweet, email you photos, etc – all of which are signs they’re OK and doing well – without you hounding them on the phone every hour. Failing that, schedule a quick Skype call every couple of days, so you can at least check in with them to make sure things are alright. If you are looking for even more security then you can purchase a GPS tracker app which will allow you to check your child’s every move and location.  Some people may see this as a little too much, however the apps tracks geographical location so if anything does occur then you know exactly where your child is located.

5. Lecture them on the do’s and don’ts 

As with all children the last thing you want to do is lecture them – but this is one occasion when that’s OK, and years later they’ll appreciate it. Sit them down one night over dinner and chat through their plans, safety precautions and other things that are bothering you or might trip them up. It’s a good idea to research tourist scams in the area they’re visiting so they can brush up on them and avoid them successfully. It’s also a good idea to remind them of the basics – such as only using registered taxicabs, etc. Things like this slip your mind when you’re an excited teenager – so just take the time to remind them. This should also include the laws – like drinking and smoking. Make sure your child knows what is breaking the law in this new country.

 6. Print out important documents

This is especially important if your child is going somewhere a bit further afield. Many children choose to venture off to Australia or Thailand after their final high school assessments on a ‘gap year’ which can be a culture shock if they’ve never been anyone alone before. Because of this, make sure you’ve got paper evidence of sections of their trip, so a printed booking of the flight, the hotel, the address (with map) and even printed insurance documents and photocopies of passports. Things like this will come in handy and will stop them from either getting lost or being unprepared.


About the Author:

Ryan Asia Rooms

Ryan is the resident blogger at AsiaRooms. When Ryan is not working he spends his time travelling the globe, drawing on his travel experience and passion for travel to spread the good word. Ryan is also a social monkey and can be found lounging around on Twitter & Google+ and loves to interact with other travel bloggers.

The article above was from a MamaBear guest blogger. The MamaBear blog is now accepting guest post from reputable bloggers on a variety of subjects. If you are interested in guest blogging for MamaBear simply contact us here.