How to Set YouTube Parental Controls

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YouTube is an excellent medium for visual learners and a great place to get hands-on instruction for cooking and crafts or gameplay tips for hard to beat levels. However, YouTube’s millions of uploaded videos are a digital Wild West that’s not always safe for children, which is why it’s essential to set YouTube parental controls.

No matter the platform or device, Zift’s got you covered with step-by-step instructions for enabling parental controls. Our Parent Portal is your go-to reference for the latest trends in games and apps, as well as digital parenting tips and tricks.

Learn more about why kids love this platform so much by checking out The Real Reason Your Preschooler is Obsessed with YouTube.

Why are YouTube Parental Controls Important?

With 300 hours of videos being uploaded to YouTube each minute, it stands to reason that the massive influx of content isn’t being monitored in a timely fashion. Considering the sheer volume of material found on the platform, you should consider setting YouTube parental controls to help protect your child from stumbling upon inappropriate content.

YouTube Restricted Mode and Age-Restricted Content

Thankfully, YouTube offers parental controls in the form of their Restricted Mode, allowing users a precursory line of defense against content not suitable for children. When YouTube is used in Restricted Mode, it creates an intentionally limited viewing experience and does not display comment threads on videos. Many schools, libraries, and other public institutions utilize YouTube’s Restricted Mode on their computers.

YouTube uses information, such as tags, metadata, titles, and age ratings to determine which videos are allowed or filtered out in Restricted Mode.

YouTube also offers age-restricted content, which can be set by the content creator or by YouTube after review. Age-restricted videos are not visible for those users viewing YouTube in Restricted Mode, not logged-in, or whose accounts indicate their age is under 18 years.

Content with vulgar language or profanity, violence and/or disturbing imagery, nudity and/or sexually suggestive content, or portraying harmful or dangerous activities will have an age restriction placed on them.

It’s important to note that YouTube’s Restricted Mode pertains only to the device on which you’ve enabled it, so you must set the mode for each device (computer, tablet, smartphone) you wish to screen content. Where you find Restricted Mode in your YouTube account will vary slightly between personal computers and mobile devices.

Enabling YouTube’s Restricted Mode is quick and easy, and takes just two or three steps to complete, depending on the device.

For personal computers

  1. Enter the YouTube URL into your browser window and sign into your account.
  2. Navigate to your Account menu (drop-down menu beneath your avatar or name) and scan for the option labeled Restricted Mode.
  3. Select Restricted Mode and tap the slider to activate

For mobile devices

Mobile devices are app-based, so you’ll be activating YouTube parental controls through the mobile application on your specific device.

  1. Locate the YouTube icon on your screen and tap to open.
  2. On the YouTube Home screen, tap your profile in the upper right-hand corner of the screen to access your Account dropdown menu.
  3. Under the Account menu, tap the Settings option to open the submenu.
  4. Locate Restricted Mode under the Settings menu and tap the slider button to activate content filtering.

How Zift Keeps Kids Safe

With any platform, native parental controls should be treated with caution and serve only as the first line of defense. Social media platforms aren’t set up to be filtered and what limited filters and restrictions available are often an afterthought. None of these content filters are foolproof, so you should not solely rely on them to screen the content for your children.

A prime example of YouTube's content monitoring and filtering failing pertains to the YouTube Kids platform, one which is supposed to be safe for child viewing. Disturbing Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol counterfeit videos made their way onto the platform, slipping through any screening and allowing children to watch characters shoot one another, commit suicide, set themselves on fire and more.

What’s even more disturbing is that the platform has had this issue for years, and they’re still not catching these inappropriate videos before allowing them on the YouTube Kids platform. The platform’s inability to thoroughly and adequately screen video uploads led to YouTube adding a feature for parents to require manual approval of content in the YouTube Kids app, an action that plainly shows that YouTube is unable to screen the videos being featured on their platform for children.

Since native parental controls for apps can be flawed, using an additional solution like the Zift app can give you visibility to the digital content which your child is exposed and can access. Plus, Zift uses smart filtering technology to screen content in real-time so you’re able to know what’s going on in your child’s digital life, even when you’re on the go.

More Screen Time Solutions for Parents

Want to know more about YouTube’s parental controls? Check out our video for How to Turn On Restricted Mode for YouTube, which gives step-by-step instructions for those of you desiring more hands-on instruction. And if you’re on the fence about allowing your child access YouTube, you’ll want to check out our parenting guide, YouTube: A Complete Guide for Parents, which features all the information you want to know in one place.

Now that you know how to set YouTube parental controls, you’re one step closer to ensuring that your child has a safe viewing experience. Having the first line of defense is essential for protecting your children online, but it’s not entirely foolproof. Learn how to take back control of your kids' digital habits by downloading the Zift app to help limit screen time and keep your kids safe online.

About Lauren B. Stevens

Lauren B. Stevens is a writer, editor & digital parent, whose pieces have been published across the internet and featured in several print anthologies. Lauren lives in the Baltimore area with her husband and son, and enjoys spending her family time hiking and traveling.

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Protect your kids, try Zift for free!

Instant Search Reports, Alerts for Inappropriate Content, & App Download Alerts.

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