YouTube Kids. It is supposed to be a safe haven for our children. A place for them to watch child friendly shows and entertainment, while you pay the bills, get dinner ready or do some work. The problem is that any platform that allows users to upload content, like YouTube Kids, is always going to have the potential for inappropriate content, and this is what has happened recently. On YouTube alone, over 300 hours of videos are uploaded every 1 minute. That is a lot of content to monitor. YouTube and YouTube Kids do have monitoring in place, however it has missed some critical content. Videos on YouTube Kids have been found to have “extra” content spliced into it. This extra content included self-harm instructions and imagery of Momo saying she was going to kill you. Very scary stuff for a child to see, and honestly many adults too have been shocked at the confronting content. What makes it extra troubling is that content is added into a harmless looking cartoon many minutes in, so typically a parent will have setup the video for a child and then walked away.
YouTube Kids is rated 4+ and it generally recommended up to 13 years of age. Naturally with a platform rated 4+ many people have assumed that the content here will be safe for children, but this isn’t the case. It has become apparent just how important it is to;
- Setup the parental controls and manage the content to a level that is appropriate for your children. Checking the videos to ensure that they are safe all the way through.
- Setup each child with their own profile so you can manage their programmes individually to cater for each of your children’s different interests and needs.
- Stay involved in what they’re watching. Have them watching in it in the lounge, kitchen, public places in the home, not in their bedrooms.
Setting up your child’s profile on YouTube Kids
When you setup your child’s own profile on YouTube kids, you can then personalise each profile so it’s unique. Each account can have its own passcode to protect each profile and, depending on the age of your child, they should know their own code and keep it private. This is advised as it prevents kids from switching between the other profiles on the app/device ie an older siblings’ profile with different content. The passcodes should be unique to each profile.
Once these profiles are setup you can now apply parental controls to each one.
You simply log into each child’s profile and then:
- Turn OFF Allow Searching (if you haven’t done so in the previous profile setup)
- Turn ON Approved Content Only
- Click start and the click the small ‘+’ at the top right of each show to add channels or shows to the approved list for this profile.
- Preview the shows before adding and then click Done.
- Turn ON Pause Watch History to prevent suggested videos showing.
- Exit back to the login screen and then double check the profile to ensure its saved and set.
On occasion you may need to block or report a video.
To do so, you click the 3 vertical dots at the top right of the video window and select the action.
Some parents will decide to remove access from YouTube Kids altogether, and that is understandable especially given the amount of media attention his has had recently. However, please remember that the internet isn’t going away so it is important for us to teach our kids about the risks and rewards of being online. It’s a great opportunity to have a conversation with your kids about online safety and a good reminder for us to keep engaged in what our kids are doing and seeing online, and using the available tools we have to keep them safe when there.